In August 2005, 2,000 men from the front Héroes de Granada, AUC, demobilized.Today, most of them could be arrested by the ruling of the Court. The government is taking emergency measures.
JUDGING The country has not realized the seriousness of the Constitutional Court ruling leaves in limbo the demobilized. Not only poses a risk to national security, but could close the doors of any peace process. The government commitment to close the gap before year’s end.
Saturday 27 November 2010
Colombia is a country unique in news. This week, the Constitutional Court issued a ruling that virtually destroys the peace process of the paramilitaries, but with the exception of government, which has caught the alarm about the effect of it, nobody else seems to have shaken.
The verdict is simple: lay down a law last year allowing the opportunity to apply the principle of demobilized enlisted men. That is, the endorsement gave the Prosecutor not to investigate. And in practice the decision has a devastating effect on national security, left in limbo about 18,000 former paramilitaries and a paradox not seen in other negotiating processes in the world: the illegal basis, many of which met logistical patrol or may receive sentences longer than their heads.
As a commander of the AUC, as the ‘Iguana’, who confessed to more than 1,000 murders in Norte de Santander, should pay eight years in prison, a young man who joined last time that armed group could receive a sentence of 8 to 18 years for the crime of conspiracy. Such differential treatment, to get to become a reality, would not only absurd, but a coup de grace to a negotiation like this, which in turn led to the demobilization of 32,000 paramilitaries.
The difference in sentences is because the leaders, having most heinous crimes, were to run for Justice and Peace Law to be submitted to a special criminal procedure and pay their respective sentences. And they did 3,000 of them. As the paramilitaries ceilings, about 8,000 have already been pardoned by the judge or the prosecutor ceased its investigation when the Court had not yet been pronounced. A few thousand more died or relapsed into crime. And the rest, about 18,000, expected, as promised, that they apply the principle of opportunity.
But now, the Constitutional Court ruling puts them on edge. Indeed, Jorge Iván Laverde, ‘Iguana’, told Caracol Radio, from Cucuta, former paramilitary leaders to suspend their participation in the process until the problem is resolved. "This process as it is, is very wrong. We are concerned about these 18,000 demobilized who are on the verge of being caught, they do not know what to do and will end on the mountain because the national government did not make a true rehabilitation," he said.
Last week the government was juggling to trying to cover this loophole that was opened. There was urgent Council meeting of Criminal Policy. It were mulling several options, and finally, on Friday afternoon decided to submit a bill to fix the problem.
The immediate risk is that the demobilized, fearing arrest, join criminal gangs. But the president Juan Manuel Santos, in person, asked the former paramilitaries who trust the government. "Do not listen to people tell them to leave the program, let alone those evil voices that invite a return to lawlessness. You did the right thing and that is stop the violence, and now for us to comply with covenant ", announced on Thursday from Cartagena.
What did happen? What’s behind this decision of the Constitutional Court?
The ruling is so wide as long. The final vote was 5-4, indicating that the decision was not easy. Even the paper, it was the magistrate Humberto Sierra, in favor of maintaining the principle of opportunity for demobilized was defeated. With Sierra, also saved the vote Juan Carlos Henao, one of the most famous judges in the legal world and Pretelt Jorge and Mauricio Gonzalez.
The other five judges background brandished a plot to overthrow the law, they say the former paramilitaries can be applied the principle of opportunity, because that would imply that the State waives investigate those who, despite being paramilitary satins, were part of an organization engaged in crimes against humanity.
The principle is that the Court says, is an instrument of the ordinary courts can not be applied in the context of a transitional justice process like this. Draws a parallel between the Justice and Peace Law, which is 2005, and the law last year that dropped to show that while the first meet certain minimum requirements, this one-the 1312 of 2009 – would lead to total impunity . While the Justice and Peace, said the Court, although "submit" justice, preserved certain requirements of truth and reparation "and provided alternative sentencing with the possibility of applying the ordinary if it failed to meet commitments "last year," by contrast, without establishing elements of justice, truth and reparations to victims, allows the prosecution to give up its obligation to investigate and prosecute demobilized crimes where impunity is unacceptable " .
The ruling has led to a heated debate not only in court, but also in the government, although it has been very respectful of the decision and has been emphatic in saying that complied with, the fact is that not all of their officials share. For those who believe that the paramilitaries have not received enough sentence for his crimes, the failure must be in part a response to their complaints. However, the judges who saved the vote not only expressed his "total disagreement" with the ruling, but seven points question the decision of the majority.
The most paradoxical, as indicated by the judges who saved the vote, is that the Supreme Court had said that he could not pardon the demobilized because it was a political crime, but a criminal offense and the ruling of the Constitutional Court says does not allow the principle of opportunity because it is for ordinary crimes and not for peace processes of adjustment.
But perhaps the most controversial of the ruling is that the Constitutional Court considers that the paramilitaries ceilings, the fact of belonging to the group, committed a crime against humanity. Which may have future implications for other peace processes, then, eventually, the guerrillas would also be given such treatment. And any employer or military who has supported the stop he would be tried under that criterion.
Juan Manuel Santos President immediately understood the gravity of what happened to more than 18,000 demobilized and summoned urgently to the Council on Criminal Policy. On Friday afternoon, the Minister Germain Vargas announced that on Monday it filed a bill with a message of urgency and debate on joint committees, to close the loophole before the end of the session of Congress on 16 December.
The central idea of the bill is that each of the demobilized will be processed and you receive the sentence appropriate, but at no time shall not be deprived of liberty. For certain benefits that will be designed and incorporated in law elements of transitional justice to allow compliance with truth, justice and reparation claimed by the Court.
Contrary to what many people believe, the fight marked in recent years the history of Colombia, President Alvaro Uribe and the Supreme Court, did not begin with "para-politics scandal. One of the first scuffle occurred by the treatment given to demobilized privates in 2007. At that time, the Supreme Court said they could not be assimilated to political offenders, and thus closed the doors of mercy for them. Today, four years later, the ghost of that confrontation seems that still haunts.