The Colombian peace court has stepped on the accelerator at the start of the new year. In decisions that shook the country, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), the transitional justice system in charge of trying those most responsible for the most serious crimes that occurred during the armed conflict, charged in January with several crimes related to the kidnapping of the former FARC leadership, and in February it raised to more than 6,400 the victims of extrajudicial executions by the military to present them as guerrillas killed in combat, the so-called ‘false positives’.
The high court is part of the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition that emerged from the peace agreement with the guerrillas, and has been forced to navigate in the midst of the polarization that has characterized Colombian society since the dialogues of La Havana Despite being a permanent target of attacks by former president Álvaro Uribe, President Iván Duque’s political mentor, this determination has allowed him to garner the redoubled support of various voices in the international community. Considered the backbone of the agreements, the JEP is a benchmark for the resolution of armed conflicts in the world, and these advances have earned it recognition for its work.
In his most recent statement, José Miguel Vivanco, director for the Americas at Human Rights Watch, this week expressed his support for “the independence of the JEP” after holding a “valuable” virtual meeting with Judge Eduardo Cifuentes, who chairs the court. “We talked about the challenges and obstacles they face, including threats against those appearing and the need to guarantee firm sanctions,” Vivanco wrote on his social networks. As well celebrated the orders to the Colombian State to prevent and punish the murders of ex-combatants. Those words are significant considering that in the past he has held critical positions towards transitional justice. “The JEP’s independence guarantees that its fight against impunity is effective,” Cifuentes replied.
The list is extensive. “The Special Jurisdiction for Peace is taking important steps in the fight against impunity that will help Colombia address the serious violations of international law in the past and the non-repetition of these violations. We reiterate that accountability for these crimes and the protection of the rights of the victims is essential for the consolidation of peace, ”said the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. “Now it is important to respect the independence of the JEP and ensure that it can continue its work with full autonomy,” emphasized the Irish Eamon Gilmore, the European Union’s special envoy for peace in Colombia.
The story of the armed conflict of more than half a century continues to be the source of bitter disputes. The attacks on transitional justice have been a banner for the Democratic Center, the government party founded by Uribe, whose most intransigent sectors insist on destroying a pact that they have always criticized. President Duque had already proposed in 2019 to modify the JEP with a series of objections that suffered a resounding defeat in Congress, and the former president persists in his idea of repealing it despite the dubious legal and constitutional viability of that path.
In the presentation of the annual report of the High Commissioner, the representative of the office in Colombia, Juliette de Rivero, warned that the proposal to abolish the peace court “constitutes a serious threat to the rights of the victims to the truth, justice and repair ”. Referring to the JEP, the Truth Commission and the Unit for the Search for Disappeared, he assured that the UN is “concerned about the statements of actors who seek to discredit the impartiality and independence of these institutions and of the people who are part of the system. comprehensive, putting them at risk ”.
In another recent gesture of support, during her visit to Colombia the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain, Arancha González Laya, met at the JEP facilities with the heads of the three institutions that make up the comprehensive system to learn how implementation is progressing. of the pact signed four years ago by the Government of Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2018) and the FARC, with Norway and Cuba as guarantor countries.
“The special jurisdiction is an integral part of the peace accords, and it seems to us that we must continue promoting the JEP, and that is the message that I have transmitted here, a message that is very clear but is also quite consistent because it we have been saying since the beginning of the peace accords, “he said. González Laya told EL PAÍS in a meeting with the press last weekend, at the end of his visit. “This peace agreement is to end a very painful process of conflict in this country, which has lasted for many decades. Do not take it lightly, you have to understand that it is difficult, but because it is difficult you have to support it twice. And you have to be very constant in that support. Spain is, the European Union is, we have been from the beginning, and the United Nations is too ”.
Added to this support is the rearrangement of relations with the United States before the arrival at the White House of Joe Biden, who as vice president of Barack Obama supported the talks in Havana. “I am committed to a bipartisan agenda that promotes our shared prosperity, contributes to lasting peace for all Colombians, and promotes our shared vision of a secure, middle-class, and democratic hemisphere,” Biden wrote to Duque in a letter that It is so far the only direct communication from the Democratic president. Washington’s relationship with its main ally in South America looks difficult after Duque exhibited his alignment with Donald Trump. The US ambassador in Bogotá, Philip Goldberg, met with Judge Cifuentes “to discuss the value that our two democracies place on the importance of respecting judicial independence.” reported the diplomatic mission last month in an illustrative message of the new times.
The peace agreement is not only an achievement of Colombia, but of all the countries that contributed their good offices to achieve it, says analyst Sergio Guzmán, director of the consulting firm Colombia Risk Analysis. The JEP’s transitional justice model, in particular, has been endorsed by both the UN and the International Criminal Court. “The moment coincides with a new attack by the government party to repeal the JEP as a result of the findings in the car about false positives,” he points out, recalling that in other countries courts such as the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) they have been attacked by political establishments. “The international community understands that the decisions of the JEP will be divisive and generate a reputational vulnerability”, so that the shielding of the recognitions helps to guarantee that it can fulfill its mission.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.