The Democratic Center (CD), the party of Colombia’s President Ivan Duque, has embarked on a disinformation campaign in an attempt to discredit the country’s war crimes tribunal.
The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) came into being last year as part of a peace process with the FARC. The transitional justice court has since been seeking justice to the more than 8.5 million victims left during the armed conflict.
Far-right supporters of Duque and his political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe, have opposed peace since the beginning of talks in 2012 and have been using social media for a concerted disinformation campaign.
Ahead of a referendum on the 2016 peace deal with the FARC, which is now a political party, Uribe, Duque and the CD used disinformation tactics to sink the initial draft of the historic peace deal.
The radical wing of the CD continues to use these tactics in an attempt to discredit the court that seeks to provide justice to FARC victims, but also victims of the military and the far-right.
Lawmakers of the CD and family members of alleged war criminals have been promoting three hashtags on Twitter that have accompanied false claims that seek to discredit the court and accuse the judges of being accomplices in war crimes committed by the FARC.
The disinformation hashtags on Twitter
Far-right CD House Representative Alvaro Hernan Prada, who is investigated by the Supreme Court over his alleged attempts to tamper witnesses linking Uribe to far-right death squads, said on Twitter that the JEP is synonymous to impunity and “is playing every card so that the FARC doesn’t pay for any crimes.”
The far-right lawmaker went as far as to claiming that the JEP is “friends” with the FARC and “mocking victims.”
“From the beginning we have has that [the JEP] is a tribunal for the FARC, designed by the FARC,” said far-right CD Senator Paloma Valencia, whose grandfather ordered the first attack on the farmers who would subsequently form the FARC.
According to far-right Senator Alfredo Ramos, “the corruption of the illegitimate JEP has no boundaries. Now they are coming with excuses to justify the impunity of the narcos of the far (sic).”
Ironically, Ramos’ father, former Antioquia governor Luis Alfredo Ramos is awaiting a court ruling over his alleged ties to drug trafficking in paramilitary death squads.
The disinformation campaign began after the JEP said it had not received evidence of drug trafficking that would merit the extradition of the FARC’s long-time ideologue, “Jesus Santrich.”
Duque’s justice minister was forced to admit on Friday that the court never received the alleged evidence because state postal agency 4-72 sent the formal request to Panama instead of the US Department of Justice in Washington DC.
Moderate lawmakers who support the peace process and the war crimes tribunal are trying to counter the disinformation offensive with their own hashtag, #LeCreoALaJEP.
Also the United Nations, which monitors the peace process, has warned about the incessant attempts to frustrate the work of the tribunal that seeks to provide justice after decades of impunity.