INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES STATEMENT ON CONSTITUTIONAL COURTíS DECISION REGARDING APPLICATION OF LAW OF JUSTICE AND PEACE IN THE REPUBLIC OF COLOMBIA
Today the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued a statement regarding the application of Law 975 of 2005, more commonly known as the ďLaw of Justice and PeaceĒ, in light of the decision adopted by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Colombia, the full text of which was recently made public.
In its statement, the IACHR analyzes the key aspects of the Constitutional Courtís decision which declares the Law of Justice and Peace constitutional in general, establishes conditions for its due interpretation, and declares some of its clauses unconstitutional. Likewise, the IACHR calls on the Stateís institutions to give strict compliance to the Courtís decision and makes recommendations for strengthening the available mechanisms to establish the truth about what happened, administer justice and make reparations to victims of the conflict which has affected Colombia for over four decades.
The Law of Justice and Peace establishes procedural benefits for members of illegal armed groups who were involved in the commission of serious crimes against the civil population and have agreed to lay down their weapons. The IACHRís statement highlights that the decision of the Constitutional Court greatly improves the balance between the legal incentives for demobilization through the reduction of punishment and the principles of truth, justice and reparation which form part of the Stateís international obligations, as originally established by the Law of Justice and Peace. The Constitutional Courtís decision specifies the requirements for the demobilized who have laid down arms in order to receive a reduced sentence, as well as the safeguarding of such reduced sentence from revocation. The sentence discourages the withholding of information and it promotes truthful and full confessions. It also improves the conditions for the Prosecutorís Office to investigate the facts effectively, and amplifies the opportunities of the victims of the conflict to participate in the proceedings and to obtain reparations.
The IACHR emphasizes the importance of the decision as an essential tool for the implementation of the legal framework adopted by the State, in accordance with its international obligations, to judge the demobilized individuals responsible for the commission of crimes during the conflict. In this sense, the entities responsible for implementing the law Ė the Prosecutorís National Unit for Justice and Peace, the Justice and Peace Courts, the ministere public, and the National Commission of Reconciliation and Reparations Ė have a vital role in its proper interpretation: they must administer justice ensuring that the procedural benefits granted to the demobilized do not constitute a mere concession of justice, but rather that they serve their intended purpose as an incentive for peace and a vehicle for the search for the truth and the due reparation to victims of the conflict.
In its statement, the IACHR recommends that the Colombian authorities rigorously enforce the requirements for the demobilized to benefit from reduced punishments and to preserve such benefit; that they contribute to the uniform development of diligent and thorough investigations of the serious crimes committed so that the imposition of reduced sentences is an outcome of the disclosure of the truth; and that they adopt all measures necessary to ensure reparations for the victims of the conflict and the restitution of their lands.
The complete text of the Inter-American Commissionís statement is available on the IACHRís Web site.
Washington D.C., August 1, 2006