The deputy prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, James Stewart, traveled to Colombia recently. Again, he highlighted that those responsible for heinous crimes need to be punished.
Stewart said the ICC continues its “preliminary examination” of Colombia’s possible transitional justice.
The ICC is the only judicial body with the power to intervene. Besides the crimes committed by the FARC (and now the ELN should they start peace negotiations), Stewart also expressed concern for the extrajudicial killings, known as false positives, committed by the military, and for the horrific sexual crimes committed by the paramilitaries.
Likewise, Colombia’s Attorney General Alejandro Ordoñez said justice cannot be a staged farce but must respect the minimum international standards of justice.
The business community also asks for a stronger judicial system. As the president of the financial Group Sura, David Bojanini, put it: “If we don’t have a solid judicial system, it is very difficult for the country to have peace. Now we speak of not accepting impunity and of transitional justice, but if we don’t have ordinary justice we will not have transitional justice.”
A loss of confidence for the future of the peace negotiations has surfaced from the fact that the Santos government has not yet expressed, even hinted, how transitional justice will be applied to the FARC, and possibly the ELN, as well as the paramilitaries and military involved in heinous crimes.
The world cannot forget when FARC negotiator Jesus Santrich was asked if the FARC would ask forgiveness from their victims. He replied, “maybe, maybe, maybe.”
According to Leonardo Goi, a researcher at Fundación Ideas Para la Paz, a risk of transitional justice is that it may be tilted in favor of the guerrillas: while the FARC militants would enjoy the benefits of transitional justice, the government’s army would not.
But, Goi asks, how could the government ever justify a guerrilla militant being allowed to walk free upon repenting for his crimes, and a military official being kept for years in prison?
And so peace talks appear to be at an impasse.
Peace Commissioner Sergio Jaramillo issued a stark warning: “This is our last chance (for peace). This is the last generation of FARC that is both military and political, the last of FARC as a university-educated political movement with Marxist politics we disagree with, but they are at least politics. The generation coming up behind them know only jungle and war.”