EL ESPECTADOR, July 28, 2020

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

Patricia Linares stated that judges in Colombia must distance themselves from political and media pressures, in connection with the debate that has arisen in the country about the recruitment of children.

In the midst of an event in which the European Union reiterated its political, technical, and financial support for the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), the Court’s President, Patricia Linares, called on the country to respect and guarantee the separation of powers, the basis for the rule of law.

“Any democratic and lawful government is based on the separation of powers, and that separation of powers implies the complete respect for the independence and autonomy of those who make up each of the powers. The judges of the JEP make up part of the judicial power as a high court and it has been established that way in Legislative Act No. 1 of 2017. As provided in that measure, we are owed the respect necessary for the autonomy and independence that we need in order to make the decisions that we are called upon to make, subject to the Constitution and the laws.”

The Justice took advantage of support by the international community to note that Colombian judges are to distance themselves from political and media pressures, to respect difference of opinion and disagreement by those who consider that the path of peace is not the path they chose.

In addition, she maintained that the JEP will respond to the generosity of the European Union, to the expectations of the victims, to Colombian society, and to the international community. And she reiterated that, although she understands the expectations and the claims of different sectors for speedier decisions, due process of law must be respected. It is a right that also takes time.

Linares made reference to the subject after the recent declarations by the government and Democratic Center members of Congress about the few results in the open cases in the JEP, principally in Case No. 007 on forced recruitment. After only one week, President Iván Duque demanded more speed in results after the Court’s four years of operation. The President responded that the JEP has been working only two years and she pointed that out because “we are talking about a jurisdiction with a time limit and the time is very short considering the dimensions of the armed conflict that lasted 50 years.”

With the renewed support of the European Union, 3.5 million euros, Justice Linares gave assurance that, “these technical and financial resources will allow us to accelerate the rhythm of the different macro-cases that the JEP has opened, so that society and the victims will have answers.”

The funds will be invested in a project called “Support for judicial decision-making and fortifying the legitimacy of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace.” It will last 18 months and, among other things, is expected to strengthen awareness of the JEP, by developing radio programs that would reach the countryside and communication and pedagogy tools that promote a better understanding of this Court, also strengthening understanding of the different branches and the components of the self-imposed penalties.

With regard to the instant case on recruitment of children, Justice Linares pointed out that, “We are advancing rapidly, but always respecting those principles that are imposed not just on any transitional judge, but on any judge in the world. We cannot forget that we are in the legal area of the Integrated System of Truth, Justice, Reparation, and No Repetition, and that the rites and formalities that are part of due process of law are rites and formalities that are respected in democracies.”

She noted that in Case No 007 there are approximately 8,000 documented complaints of crimes, to which 37 former FARC-EP commanders are connected, and that 14 commanders have been called to testify, and their victims have been accredited.

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