International Criminal Court to probe Colombian army in civilian killings

The International Criminal Court (ICC) will analyze information regarding the Colombian army murdering civilians and disguising them as guerillas killed in combat to artificially inflate its enemy kill count. “We are asking [the government] about this issue, they have responded to us about the cases currently under investigation. We are preparing a report about this, but for now we are in the process of analyzing,” said the court’s outgoing prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, in an interview with Spanish news agency EFE June 13.

Recently the International Federation for Human Rights called on the ICC to open an investigation against Colombian army officials for the so-called “false positive” extrajudicial killings that occurred between 2002 and 2008, when the scandal broke. Since then more than 2,000 cases of alleged murders committed by army officials with the aim of bloating kill counts have come under investigation.

Ocampo noted that as dictated by the Rome Statute, the agreement that founded the court, the prosecution “does not have to open cases” when the Colombian government investigates them. The Argentine judge, who led the court for nine years, said that in the case of Colombia the ICC “is an important incentive for judicial action.” Ocampo also recognized however that “Colombia is an example of a country that makes the biggest effort in the world” to bring “problems from the past” to trial and offer “reparations to conflict victims.” (Colombia Reports, June 14)

Colombia in the past has received warnings from The Hague that its officials could face prosecution for collaboration with paramilitaries.

New dialogue law passed
Colombia’s Congress on June 13 passed a law establishing conditions for a new peace dialogue with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has stepped up attacks in recent months, showing it can still rock the Andean country with high-profile assaults. The Legal Framework for Peace calls for reduced sentences for FARC leaders if a peace deal is reached, providing they confess their crimes and compensate victims. The law bars guerillas involved in human rights abuses from public office. (Reuters, June 14)

Human Rights Watch identified problems with the new law in a press release June 12, calling it “essentially an amnesty in disguise,” and characterizing it as too lenient against criminals. HRW called on the government to change the law to comply with international standards of protecting victims’ basic human rights. (Jurist, June 15)

See our last post on Colombia.

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