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News > Colombia

Colombia's Duque Paves Way for Ex-Guerrillas Extradition to US

  • Demonstration in support of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace in Bogota, Colombia, March 13, 2019.

    Demonstration in support of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace in Bogota, Colombia, March 13, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 March 2019

President Ivan Duque blocked a key bill seeking to implement the peace agreement with the demobilized Revolutionary Army Forces of Colombia (FARC).

The United States Department of State (DOS) Friday backed Colombian far-right President Ivan Duque's desire to implement extradition to the U.S. as part of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), the court which was created under the peace agreement with the Revolutionary Army Forces of Colombia (FARC) and is expected to prosecute war crimes.

Colombian President Seeks To Weaken Peace Accord Court

“The United States welcomes actions that ensure that those who commit serious crimes after the signing of the Peace Accord... are held accountable to the full extent of the law and are subject to extradition as appropriate,” Robert Palladino, the DOE Deputy Spokesman, said in a statement and added that “we welcome efforts to strengthen accountability for war crimes.”

Last week President Duke objected to 6 of the 159 articles of the JEP Statutory Law, which had been approved by both the Congress and the Constitutional Court, which define which grants authority to the JEP to decide on all cases of extradition.

President Duque claims that the JEP cannot have the power to examine all cases of extradition and that the country's top prosecutor should have a say on certain cases. If the law ends up being adjusted according to Duque's wishes, it would mean that former guerrilla fighters could be extradited to the United States.

Due to the presidential veto, the bill will now return to Congress, a political maneuver critics say generates legal uncertainty among the ex-combatants and shows the president's contempt for the Constitutional Court.

At the center of the extradition controversy is the disagreement between the Attorney General's Office and the JEP over the case of Jesus Santrich, a former FARC commander who has been asked by the U.S. Justice for an alleged drug trafficking crime.

In response to the Duque's objections, Alberto Brunori, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights representative in Colombia, asked Duque for the urgent approval of the JEP Statutory Law.

Luciano Marin, the former head of the FARC negotiating team, said that Colombia's President seeks, on one hand creates "two jurisdictions investigating the same facts" and on the other hand extradites "without evidence guerrilla commanders to satisfy his thirst for revenge."

Washington also asked Colombia to "expeditiously pass a statute to implement the JEP to ensure it has a solid legal framework to operate effectively and independently."

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