International Criminal Court closes long time war crime investigation into Colombia after cooperation agreement
© WikiMedia (Vincent van Zeijst)
International Criminal Court closes long time war crime investigation into Colombia after cooperation agreement

The office of the public prosecutor (OTP) and the government of Colombia entered into a cooperation agreement Thursday, effectively closing the ICC’s 17 year-long preliminary investigations into Colombia’s alleged war crimes.

The agreement, which was concluded by the prosecutor, Mr. Karim A. A khan QC and president Iván Duque Márquez is centered around the complementarity principle and recognize the domestic efforts of Colombia towards ending impunity for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. The complementarity principle is a crucial pillar to the exercise of the court’s jurisdiction. Article 1 of the Rome statute provides that the court only compliments the efforts of the domestic courts. Further, Article 17 states that the court will only assume jurisdiction where the state which has jurisdiction over it is either unwilling or unable to prosecute.

The agreement acknowledges Colombia’s willingness and ability to prosecute. This decision is made in light of, among other things: the 2016 peace agreement between the FARC-EP and the government, which has constitutional status, together with the various transitional institutions established to end impunity for these crimes.  The agreement, therefore, marks the close of the preliminary examination. However, it may be subject to future reconsideration.  The government has, on its part, undertaken to support the efforts of the various institutions, including through budgetary provision. The OTP, on the other hand, has committed to supporting Colombia’s accountability efforts.

The OTP in June 2004 opened a preliminary investigation into the situation in Colombia, and in 2012, it determined that the Colombian government forces, the FARC- EP-ELN, and the paramilitary had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The agreement has an indefinite duration and can be terminated by either party with three months notice.