By Cristina de la Torre, EL ESPECTADOR, November 1, 2021

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

After three years, the JEP has been placed at the head of the judicial system that is confronting serious crimes against human rights, in a country where the recourse to horror defies the imagination of the bloodiest dictators. And in spite of the merciless attacks by the administration and the administration party against the transitional justice tribunal, which is the backbone of the Peace Agreement. Such is the consequence of the JEP’s work and its prestige around the world that the International Criminal Court (ICC) exchanged the closing of a 17-year-old preliminary investigation of this country for the government’s commitment to respect, fortify, and provide for the transitional justice agency, and to develop the Havana Agreement to its full dimensions and potential. At the same time, this is recognition of the constitutional and legal legitimacy of the JEP and the rights of nine million victims, and it clamps down on the wishful thinking of the right against the model of truth, justice, and reparation. It obliges the government to furnish a regular accounting to the ICC of its efforts against impunity and its progress in the implementation of the peace. If it fails to do that, the ICC will intervene.

The support that concluded by protecting the JEP was vigorous in the emblematic cases of war crimes compromising top-ranking officials who had issued the orders and in holding command staff responsible; for filing charges against high-ranking military officers—generals included—for 6,402 false positives; and for the Secretariat of the now-defunct FARC for 21,000 kidnappings, and 18,000 cases of recruitment of children. Never before has the Colombian legal system gone so far, not even when it was subjected to the bombardments of a former President who, to save his own skin, and that of the shady circle that surrounded him, made a game of it.

With his well-known speed to capture every opportunity for self-congratulation, Duque describes the ICC pause as a token of confidence in his administration. He appropriates merits that don’t belong to him, particularly those of the JEP and the Supreme Court, the habitual targets of the Uribists and himself. He wanted to tear the Peace Agreement to shreds, and he wasted a year of debate in Congress with the six objections that he interposed in favor of dissolving it. And he has nothing to say when his friend the Attorney General invites, with no reason, the preclusion of the investigation of Uribe for manipulating of witnesses as he tried to close off investigation of his alleged participation in the creation of paramilitary groups. Merely tracking the massacres, kidnappings, disappearances, forced displacements, false positives, and promotion of paramilitarism has opened a staggering fanning out in our Colombia, which functions as the oldest stable democracy in the region, free of dictatorship (aside from the civilian dictatorship of Ospina-Laureano and the military dictatorship of Rojas between 1949 and 1957). Is it possible that the cruel dictatorship declared in Venezuela, the ICC’s next step, will be shown to be less cruel? Our brother nation, governed for a century by autocrats with commanding epaulets, under the doctrine of the “necessary policeman” of Vallanilla Lanz, who took the capital as his “barracks” of Gran Colombia, while Bogotá anointed itself pretentiously as “the Athens of South America”. Maybe neither Gómez nor Pérez Jiménez, nor Chávez, nor Maduro could equal the bloodbaths of some of our governments—not the violence of Democratic Security—presided over by eminent civilians who, coming from a precarious democracy, emulated the dictators.

Now this government will have to guarantee the victims’ rights, and is not allowed to obstruct the operation of the transitional justice system. The Defend the Peace movement is demanding that President Duque honor the determined words of the ICC and ask his party to retire the three anti-JEP bills that are proceeding in Congress: two bills that would modify it and one that would dissolve it. It will be an acid test, among others that will come, to abide by or fail to abide by the pause with conditions.

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