Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] submitted an amicus brief [text] to the Colombian Constitutional Court [official website, in Spanish] on Tuesday [press release] calling for changes to the Special Jurisdiction of Peace bill—a peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The Court is reviewing the bill, which was passed on November 30, 2017. HRW has identified three shortcomings in the bill, which include:
- an indefensibly rigid definition of “command responsibility” for FARC commanders that could impede efforts to secure accountability;
- loopholes and ambiguities in the sanction regime for confessed war criminals that could allow them to escape meaningful punishment;
- victim participation in proceedings before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace.
HRW called on the court to ensure that the definition of “command responsibility” includes recognized definitions under international law, which includes only requiring that the commander “should have known” about the crimes being committed by the subordinates.
HRW also called on the court to clarify the nature and location of the place of residence that war criminals would be restricted to under the bill if they confess to the crimes. Although the bill states that victims are able to participate in the proceedings, it does not specify exactly how much the victims can participate. HRW called on the court to ensure that victims are granted “full possibilities of being heard and appearing at the corresponding legal proceedings.”
Colombia and FARC signed a ceasefire [JURIST report] in June 2016, which ended more than 50 years of armed conflict. A peace accord [JURIST report] between Colombia and FARC was signed in September 2016. In July 2017, Colombia granted amnesty [JURIST report] to 3,252 members of FARC.