|Senate of Colombia|
The proposed bill would allow military courts to oversee humanitarian crimes allegedly committed by members of the security forces “except in the cases of genocide, forced disappearance, forced displacement, kidnapping, sexual violence, extrajudicial executions, and torture.”
However, the language of the bill could allow many of these crimes to be passed into the military’s hands, particularly in cases of extrajudicial killings or “false positives,” as they are called in Colombia.
Here is where the potential problem lies: while the proposal states that the military would not oversee “extrajudicial executions,” such a crime does not exist in the Colombian justice system. Those found guilty of killing civilians and later claiming they were rebels have been charged with homicide, and sentenced up to 40 years in prison.
The linguistics of law
The crime of “sexual violence,” which the bill also excludes from military jurisprudence, is also non-existent in Colombian law; what does exist is “violent sexual intercourse” and “sexual abuse.”
Additionally, the bill will allow cases of the illegal wiretapping of non-military targets to be transferred to military courts, even though it is a crime unrelated to warfare and in Colombia falls under the jurisprudence of civilians courts.
The bill, if passed, would apply retroactively to all open cases against the military. Of the 3,400 current investigations into 5,700 members of the military, 87% of these are for extrajudicial killings or “false positives,” according to leftist opposition Senator Ivan Cepeda, founder of the Movement of Victims of State Crimes.
“This could end in impunity for crimes against humanity, in a covert form.” Cepeda told Colombia Reports.