Colombia approves transitional justice system

The Colombian Senate on March 13 approved a transitional justice structure that will attempt to bring reparations to the more than 8 million victims of the decades-long conflict between the Colombia government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The new system will include a Transitional Justice Tribunal, a Truth Commission and a Missing Persons section, all aimed at punishing war crimes and gaining reparations for victims. The vote was 60-2 in the Senate, with all 40 members of the Democratic Center party boycotting the vote. The bill must now be approved by Colombia's Constitutional Court before it can take effect.

From Jurist, March 14. Used with permission.

Note: The transitional justice system, formally the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), was mandated by the Amnesty Law passed late last year, covering combatants not accused of  "grave" war crimes. Civil society groups across Colombia are preparing testimony for the Truth Commission.

  1. Colombia high court approves special justice tribunals

    Colombia's Constitutional Court on Nov. 13 ruled that provisions for special justice tribunals in the 2016 peace accord between the government and the FARC were constitutional.

    The Final Agreement to End the Armed Conflict and Build a Stable and Lasting Peace is the second recent attempt to obtain peace between Colombia's government and rebel forces. Chapter 5 of this modified peace accord, Comprehensive System for Truth, Justice, Reparations and Non-Recurrence, sets forth the Special Jurisdiction for Peace which will provide alternative sentences to FARC members convicted of war crimes. Such alternatives will be available only to those who recognize their responsibility in committing the crimes, where those who do not will serve 15 to 20 years in prison.

    While the court upheld most provisions of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, it also made several modifications. One opened the possibility that ex-rebels could be extradited for crimes committed after the peace process ends and that former guerillas elected to public office could lose their seats if they fail to comply with the tribunal process. (Jurist, Nov. 16)