Friday, March 20, 2015

Colombian transitional justice bill may lead to military impunity

In a post for Open Democracy, Dr. Thomas MacManus and Dr. Alun Gibbs expressed concern that a proposed Colombia Senate Bill to reform the military justice system will "exacerbate the challenge of post-conflict transitional justice in Colombia by implicitly offering a form of immunity to the military for serious breaches of international human rights and criminal law carried out during the armed conflict." Specifically, MacManus and Gibbs fear that the bill could allow military officials implicated in the false positives scandal could have their cases moved to military courts, leading to widespread impunity. (Human Rights Watch expressed similar concern in February.) Moreover, the bill allows institutions of military or police criminal justice to be the first to determine whether an element of a crime exists, thus giving military officials the ability to immunize bad actors from prosecution. Finally, the authors noted that the wording of the statute could expand the jurisdiction of military courts. However, the Colombian Constitutional Court has historically played a strong check against military court overreach. 

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