International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

“The Amnesty Tightrope” in Colombia

This article demonstrates the tension between peace and justice we’ve discussed in class.  Ongoing conflict in Colombia may come to an end if the two parties can agree to the terms of a peace agreement, but the crucial issue is whether or not combatants will get amnesty.  This is complicated by the fact that Colombia signed and ratified the Rome Treaty in 2002, giving the ICC jurisdiction.  If the agreement relies on impunity, there may be an issue of international law, as the ICC may prosecute despite an amnesty agreement.  The ICC has already been involved with the conflict and opened a preliminary investigation as far back as 2004.

Colombia’s President, Juan Santos, has resisted, insisting on Colombia’s “right to chart it’s own path for justice,” highlighting the tension between international justice and state sovereignty.  This is a difficult balance to strike because there is merit on both sides.  On one hand, the country in which the violence is taking place should certainly have ownership over the resolution of that conflict.  It will increase the chances that the terms of the deal are followed and that the deal is perceived as fair.  On the other hand, the role of the international community as a check on the domestic justice process is crucial.  Holding those responsible, especially the elite perpetrators in positions of power, cannot be compromised.  Prosecution is necessary not only to ensure there is justice for the victims of this conflict, but also to establish a deterrent precedent in future conflicts.


One response to ““The Amnesty Tightrope” in Colombia

  1. eap2017 February 15, 2015 at 10:12 pm

    I understand why amnesty for the FARC is on the table at these peace discussions, but I cannot imagine how the FARC leaders can believe that they have established credibility strong enough to make such demands. This is a group that many state officials classify as a terrorist organization. Giving in to a terrorist group that has committed atrocities against your country for over 50 years is not an acceptable course of action, especially while the majority of citizens oppose granting amnesty to the group, still the offer remains on the table. As we discussed in class this past week, I wonder if President Santos and his administration are simply resisting the ICC until peace is established, so that the ICC can then intervene to revoke the amnesty based on their superseding jurisdiction? Is the offer of amnesty simply a negotiation tactic to finally end this ongoing conflict?

    The Colombian government must understand that the Rome Statute it signed establishes that whether or not it can come to an agreement to “appease” the rebels, the ICC is lawfully justified in revoking any impunity it grants them, as Bensouda has warned. I believe that despite what President Santos claims, Colombia would not oppose such actions to be taken by the ICC. Colombians want an end that brings peace to their country and the perpetrators to justice.

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