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News > Latin America

FARC Denounces Colombian Court's Changes to Peace Accord

  • FARC number two Luciano Marín, also known as

    FARC number two Luciano Marín, also known as "Ivan Marquez," argues that such changes promote impunity. | Photo: EFE/Archive

Published 16 November 2017

Colombia's Constitutional Court has modified the legal framework ruling the peace agreement between former guerrillas and the government.

The former guerrilla group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has welcomed high court approval of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), but warns that certain amendments risk endangering the peace process.

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The ruling introduced modifications to the post-conflict transitional justice system – considered the backbone of the peace agreement – which could "generate adverse consequences for the peace," declared FARC number two Luciano Marín, also known as "Ivan Marquez," in a press conference in Bogota.

The JEP, approved by Colombia's Senate in March, will set the tone for prosecution cases for the multitude of human-rights crimes committed during the country's decades-long civil war.

The Constitutional Court approved it unanimously, with seven votes in favor, but made several modifications to the original text agreed upon between the FARC and the government of President Juan Manuel Santos in November 2016.

Among the changes are that the participation of former FARC members will be conditional, now that they've demobilized and have become a political party called the Alternative Revolutionary Force of the Commons.

"This is breaking the symmetry and paves the way to lose easily the benefits for the FARC members who would like to participate politically," said Marquez.

Another major change involves extradition agreements, in which former guerrillas who fail to comply with the JEP may be extradited. In addition, judges cannot compel third parties or civilians investigated for crimes during the armed conflict to appear before the JEP, although such people can do so voluntarily.

Marquez argues that such changes promote impunity, dramatically emptying the meaning of the pact signed in Havana, as "the justice system set up will be conceived exclusively for the FARC former guerrilleros."

For former FARC guerrillas, the measures are mandatory for the successful transition into civilian life required for their participation in elections. Any former guerrilla can run for public office, but if elected and sanctioned by the JEP, they stand to lose their position.

Finally, the jurisdiction could extend its duration from 10 years to a maximum of 20 years. The article on the sanctions was not changed, including the five, eight or 20 years in prison for former rebels who confess to their crimes.

FARC leader Pablo Catacumbo said the group will resort to the international courts to ensure the peace accord is implemented as it was signed in November 2016.

"We are facing a serious situation like we've never seen before," he said. "Obviously we will resort to all international organisms because we are facing a serious situation of violation of the agreement."

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