The Role of the International Criminal Court Concerning Colombia: An Astonishing Failure

Today’s edition of the Colombian daily newspaper El Espectador, in a column written by Daniel Munoz, presented as very positive the decision of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, to close the ICC’s file on Colombia. Prosecutor Khan’s decision conflicts substantially with that of his predecessor, Fatou Bensouda, who had kept the file open as she reviewed substantial failures of the Colombian government administrations to deal effectively with widespread killings, caused by paramilitary activities to which numerous political figures in Colombia are linked, and to deal effectively with drug-trafficking, which also involves many murders and linkages to political figures.

The basis for Prosecutor Kahn’s decision to close the ICC’s Colombia file appears to have been the positive function of the “JEP”, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, which was created through the Peace Agreement between the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the former guerrillas of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC). The Centro Democratico political party of the current President of Colombia, Ivan Duque, opposed the Peace Agreement and Duque has been very slow to implement important provisions of the Peace Agreement, especially return of lands to the 8 million persons who have been forced off their lands by the conflict in the countryside.

The truth of the matter is that the International Criminal Court has failed to perform the function for which it was established: to monitor conflicts in countries worldwide and work to establish peace with justice in those countries. Outside of a very few countries in Africa, the Court has seemed reluctant to get involved in countries, such as Colombia, where widespread human rights violations have been endemic. The functioning of the JEP is a good thing, but that is not a sufficient reason for the ICC to end its monitoring of developments in Colombia. Prosecutor Khan’s closing of the ICC’s file on Colombia is nothing more than an admission of the weakness of the Court and the ineffectiveness of its monitoring of human rights abuses in Colombia and elsewhere.

John I. Laun

Co-Founder and Program Director

Colombia Support Network

October 29, 2021            

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