Colombian President Ivan Duque wants to reform a key statutory law that regulates the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), an integral part of country’s 2016 Peace Accord to bring justice to the country’s 50 year internal conflict.
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On Sunday the president announced that he and his right-wing Democratic Center party want to amend six articles of the Statutory Law of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace that mandates the operation of the JEP court.
"We Colombians want and need a peace that unites us and we must all contribute to achieve that goal," Duque said in a televised speech.
JEP is the backbone of the peace agreement signed in November 2016 between the Manuel Santos administration and the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). It is charged with “investigating, judging and sanctioning the most serious crimes of the country’s armed conflict,” according to the court.
The temporary tribunal recently sentenced two former army generals to a total of 72 years for the killing of a Campesino social activist in 1997 and the massacre of around 200 farmers in 1995. Importantly, the court allows former FARC members and civilians involved in the conflict to provide information on events during the armed conflict era in exchange for reduced sentences. Duque now says he wants this article changed saying it creates judicial “impunity.”
If approved the changes could weaken the newly formed institution that has been trying to clear the name of former FARC leader Jesus Santrich who is being accused by the Colombian and U.S. governments of planning to export 10 tons of cocaine to the United States. Member of the peace negotiation team in Cuba, Santrich was detained last April by Colombian authorities and the U.S. government wants to extradite him to be tried in a civil court, rather than by the JEP.
The president of the JEP, Patricia Linares, responded to the president in a statement assuring the public and JEP users that the court, "will continue to function fully" with the "commitment to obtaining the full truth" and to seek "the full reparation of the victims."
The law will return to Congress to discuss president’s demands. "I will respect the decisions on the objections and the constitutional reforms that the Congress of the Republic takes," the Colombian leader said Sunday.
According to the JEP nearly 84 percent of former FARC members have signed commitments to participate in this special justice system that Duque has vowed to "rip up" since prior to his winning the presidency in 2018.