United Nations independent human rights experts on Oct. 22 urged Colombian authorities to reconsider proposed constitutional reforms affecting the military criminal law. Eleven experts, comprising the Special Procedures mandate-holders of the Human Rights Council of the UN, wrote an open letter to the government of Colombia expressing their concern that the proposed reforms could prove harmful to administering justice for alleged violations of human rights by allowing military or police institutions rather than independent investigators to be the first to determine the existence of elements of crimes:
We have noted with serious concern that the constitutional reform project would expand the jurisdiction of military or police tribunals, giving them the power to investigate, process and decide on cases of human rights violations which should be under the authority of the ordinary criminal justice system. For instance, although the current project stipulates that criminal military justice institutions will not have jurisdiction over crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and the crime of enforced disappearances, this detailed and specific listing of crimes—which would fall outside the ambit of the military justice system—allows other international human rights and humanitarian law crimes to fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of military justice.
The panel offered their services to the Colombian government to help develop measures that would advance “the fight against impunity and the achievement of peace in Colombia.” UN independent experts are appointed by the Human Rights Council in an unpaid capacity to examine and report on human rights issues.
From Jurist, Oct. 23. Used with permission.
The International Criminal Court earlier this year opened an investigation into possible war crimes by the Colombian military.