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Playing with Fire: International Criminal Law, Transitional Justice, and the Implementation of the Colombian Peace Agreement

  • René Urueña (a1)

Extract

On November 30, 2016, after much uncertainty, the Colombian Congress finally approved a historic peace deal between the Colombian government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), bringing to an end the country's fifty-year conflict. This peace deal was a historical achievement, and had important ramifications for international law, as discussed in a recent AJIL Unbound symposium. But once the spotlights were off, the government was faced with the daunting challenge of implementing the complex, lengthy accord. In particular, the government had to draw up and pass through Congress the legal and constitutional framework for the transitional justice process—a key component of the peace deal. It is there, in the subtle details of domestic criminal law, where the balance between peace and justice must be achieved.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

References

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2 Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, Ejército del Pueblo - FARC-EP & Gobierno de Colombia, Acuerdo Final Para la Terminación del Conflicto y la Construcción de una Paz Estable y Duradera, paras. 38, 30, 4 (Nov. 24, 2016).

3 Id. at para 23.

4 Law 1820 of 2016 art. 15 (Colom.).

5 Law 1820 of 2016 art. 19 (Colom.).

6 Tatiana Duque, La ley de amnistía se aplicará a medias (por ahora), La Silla Vacía (Dec. 29, 2016).

7 For background on the Special Peace Jurisdiction, see Sanchez Leon, supra note 1.

8 Law 1820 of 2016 art. 21 (Colom.).

9 Id.

10 Peace Agreement 150.

11 Peace Agreement 151.

12 International Committee for the Red Cross Customary IHL Database, Rule 156.

13 Law 1820 of 2016 art. 23 (Colom.).

14 Peace Agreement 149; Law 1820 of 2016 art. 9 (Colom.).

15 Law 1820 of 2016 art. 9 (Colom.).

16 Original Peace Agreement 137 (emphasis added).

17 Original Peace Agreement 146.

18 See, for example, Prosecutor v. Delalić, Case No. IT-96-21-T, Judgment, para. 377 (Int'l Crim. Trib. for the Former Yugoslavia Nov. 16, 1998); Prosecutor v. Orić, Case No. IT-03-68-T, Judgment, para. 307 (Int'l Crim. Trib. for the former Yugoslavia June 30, 2006).

19 Final Peace Agreement 152 (Nov. 12, 2016).

20 Final Peace Agreement 164 (Nov. 12, 2016).

21 Human Rights Watch, Carta sobre “responsabilidad de mando” en la legislación de implementación del acuerdo de paz (Jan. 25, 2017); See also, Oficina del Alto Comisiona de las Naciones Unidas, El ‘toque’ de los militares a la Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz (Jan. 30, 2017).

22 One further problem is that the Constitutional amendment only speaks of command responsibility in the case of state agents, possibly excluding this form of criminal liability for FARC commanders. This oversight would be contrary to both Colombia's international obligations and the Peace Agreement itself. My interpretation is that command responsibility exists as a principle of criminal law, even if the constitutional amendment was silent. For FARC, though, the applicable standard would not be that of the Amendment (which is restricted to agents of the state), but less demanding principles of international law, discussed below.

23 Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, ICC-01/05-01/08, Judgment pursuant to Article 74 of the Statute, paras. 187–188 (Mar., 21, 2016).

24 1977 Protocol I Additional to the 1949 Geneva Conventions art. 86(2), June 8, 1977, 1125 UNTS 3.

25 Prosecutor v. Bagilishema, Case No. ICTR-95-1A-A, Judgement (Reasons), para. 28 ( July 3, 2002).

26 Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, supra note 23, at para. 191.

27 Id. at para. 192.

29 Christof Lehmann, ICC Chief Prosecutor Bensouda Threatens With Intervention in Colombia, NSNBC Int'l (Jan. 27, 2017).

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AJIL Unbound
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2398-7723
  • URL: /core/journals/american-journal-of-international-law
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