International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Possible Constitutional Reform in Colombia may endanger justice

UN independent experts urge Colombia to reconsider proposed criminal law for military

Amidst peace negotiations that could outline the future of transitional justice in Colombia, a new constitutional reform could pose grave danger to fairness and accountability in what concerns those crimes committed by members of the government.

The proposal entails giving military courts jurisdiction over human rights violations perpetrated by the military, jurisdiction that should belong to regular criminal courts. It would create “a Penal Guarantees Court to deal exclusively with accusations against members of the military or police forces of the Fuerza Pública.” Many activists and human rights monitors argue that this would create preferential treatment for members of the military, creating an atmosphere of impunity.

11 independent human rights activists and experts wrote an open letter to the Colombian government warning it of the dangers of such a proposal, calling it a “historic setback….in the fight against impunity…”. The United Nations human rights office also called on the Colombian government to reconsider such a reform.

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