May, 23 2018 (Colombia Reports)
A year after FARC rebels demobilized, Colombia’s Congress has yet to vote on the war crimes tribunal’s powers.
The legislative branch’s indecision has caused a crisis in the judicial branch.
The Special Jurisdiction for peace (JEP) last week ordered to suspend the extradition of FARC leader “Jesus Santrich,” much to the fury of chief prosecutor Nestor Humberto Martinez.
According to Martinez and Inspector General Fernando Carrillo, the transitional justice system overstepped its authority.
The crisis is partly due to the fact the JEP took force before Congress was able to define the powers of the transitional court.
This, apparently, has left the court’s jurisdiction open to interpretation.
Elections more important that justice?
Also on Tuesday, members of the Senate and House commissions that are supposed to vote on the JEP’s powers failed to vote. The session was lifted due to the absence of lawmakers.
Congressmen that did attend told newspaper El Tiempo they wanted to “wait and see what happens on Sunday” when Colombians take to the polls for the first round of presidential elections.
The lawmakers “don’t want to commit” because of “the proximity of the elections,” said House Representative Oscar Fernando Bravo of the Conservative Party.
Colombia’s notoriously corrupt Congress has not wanted to commit for a year and a half on much of the 2016 peace deal that seeks to end more than half a century of armed conflict.
What’s at stake
The transitional justice system seeks to try the most serious of war crimes that were committed during the country’s armed conflict between the leftist guerrillas and the state.
The JEP is controversial, however, because of state involvement in many of these war crimes.
While conservative lawmakers claim the transitional justice system is too lenient for the FARC, the International Criminal Court has claimed that military commanders could evade criminal responsibility.
The armed conflict that began in 1964 has left more than 8 million victims and continues to generate violence.