“No political will” for JPL

09 December 2009 by Frank Petit

In 2005 Colombia introduced the Justice and Peace Law (JPL) in an effort to combat the problem of paramilitary groups rampant in the country. The law offers fighters lenient penalties for human rights abuses in return for voluntary demobilisation. Michael Reed-Hurtado is Head of Office at the International Center for Transitional Justice in Colombia. He spoke to the IJT’s Frank Petit about how the law is working.

How many trials have taken place since the JPL was introduced?
Only one trial took place, and it was annulled! There are ongoing depositions by 650 of the demobilized paramilitary that have not ended in a successful way. The Supreme Court, in both annulling the first trial and responding to an interlocutory appeal on a secondary case, has told the office of the prosecutor that they need to have a coherent and consistent approach to their investigation task in the JPL process. But to date, the balance is extremely negative.

For what reasons?
Multiple issues. First, the executive power provided a list of names to the office of the prosecutor in a very disorderly fashion. Initially 2,065, currently 3,854. It is a real structural issue that there isn’t a strategic decision on who the prosecutor should or should not prosecute . Secondly, in practice there is a lot of improvisation, largely because all the institutions of the criminal justice system were not at all ready to assume the mass nature of the crimes that were perpetrated.

Want to read more?

If you subscribe to a free membership, you can read this article and explore our full archive, dating back to 1997.

Subscribe now

Related articles

article
19 February 2007 by Laetitia Grotti

One year ago on January 6, 2006, the 17 members of Morocco's Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) were closing up shop after submitting their final report to King Mohammed VI. The Moroccan truth commission had received a flood of compliments from the international community praising the recommendations in its report, especially those advocating legislative and constitutional reforms. One year later, however, the results have been rather mixed.

article
11 September 2006 by our correspondent in Arusha

After having tried high-ranking officers, ministers, businessmen, priests, journalists, local officials and militiamen, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is in uncharted waters. On September 11, the most famous rwandese troubadour of his generation will stand trial for genocide. 

article
23 October 2006 by Christine Chaumeau

China is keeping a polite distance from international criminal justice. Beijing is hardly disinterested, but China does want to make sure that these new global mechanisms are not going to infringe upon its sovereignty by delving into particularly sensitive cases such as Tibet. 

article
United Nations Operation in Burundi disarms rebel forces in Mbanda in February 2005 (Photo: Flickr/UN Photo/Martine Perret)
03 June 2015 by Janet H. Anderson, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Over the last month, Burundi has hit the headlines as the president put himself forward to be elected for a controversial third term, resulting in street protests, thousands of refugees who fled instability and an attempted coup. Behind the issues of elections and constitutionalism are also those of justice following Burundi’s long-running civil war. The international community supported an intensive process of negotiation and the signing of the Arusha Accord in 2000. But in the decade and a half since, its provisions on justice have been debated though never fully implemented.

article
06 November 2006 by Pierre Hazan

France's attitude towards international criminal justice is marked by ambiguity. Paris subscribes to a vision of the world in which international humanitarian law is considered a way to curb violence against civilian populations, but at the same time it is wary of an unchecked judicial system that could end up prosecuting French soldiers engaged in areas where it has old and deep-rooted interests.