President Ivan Duque said Wednesday that the war crimes tribunal should guarantee “genuine truth, reparation, and non-repetition” as he is under increase pressure over a law that mandates its powers.
The national debate has ignited highly charged opinions in recent weeks on the statutory law that regulates the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP).
To some, Duque’s decision on the JEP bill that has already been approved by congress and the constitutional court would send a contested message regarding the president’s commitment to the peace process.
Duque, who has underfunded or scrapped other key elements of the peace deal, has until March 8 to make a decision and said he would take his time.
I will take the necessary time that the law provides to find the best decision from the president that is directed so that in this country we are able to have genuine truth, genuine justice, genuine reparation and genuine non-repetition.
President Ivan Duque
The statutory law would guarantee the war crimes tribunal to act independently in accordance with establishing regulatory mechanisms toward restorative justice, which includes the participation of victims and the armed actors who were suspected of war crimes. State actors would also be tried under the criminal justice tribunal.
Duque faces pressure from his own party, the hard-right Democratic Center, and controversial chief prosecutor Nestor Humberto Martinez to send the bill back to Congress.
The country’s centrist and leftist opposition in Congress, the United Nations, the European Union and the International Criminal Court have urged Duque to end the years-long delay in the taking force of the statutory law.
Duque said on Monday he would consider moving forward with the law as it is preferable to have a statutory set of rules for JEP, instead of not having one. “I am not going to enter in controversies with the Constitutional Court,” he said.
Testimony presented at the JEP could also prompt investigations into other high-ranking government officials, including his political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe, one of the fiercest opponents of the war crimes tribunal and the peace process in general.
The deputy prosecutor of the International Criminal Court stated Wednesday that there would be wide ranging implications to Colombia’s justice system, if the statute is not enacted.
The president is unable to refuse to pass the statute on constitutional grounds since it already passed congressional approval. He can only object and return the bill to Congress if he finds that the law interferes with other functions of the state.
The JEP has started investigating five macro cases and has already involved 15,000 people in its first year, and is expected to bring some level of justice to the country’s 8.5 million war victims after decades of virtual absolute impunity.