The list of magistrates for the JEP has been published

The Selection Committee has just published the names of the 51 magistrates that will make up the courts in the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) that will judge events and cases within the framework of the armed conflict.

60% of the magistrates come from outside of the main cities, over 50% are women and 10% from indigenous communities. Mirtha Patricia Linares Prieto has been named president of the JEP and Luz Marina Monzón (researcher at the National Center of Historical Memory), director of the Unit that will search for disappeared people.[1]

On 1 August the Government put before the Senate a draft statute on the Special Peace Jurisdiction (JEP),[2] which sets out the timeframes, procedures and criteria for people presenting themselves voluntarily to the JEP and for those being summoned by it.[3]  The Tribunal will examine facts that occurred until 26 September 2017 and which are directly or indirectly related to the armed conflict. Human rights and victims’ organisations have raised several concerns about the draft statute’s content.[4]

To date 1,502 soldiers and 2,817 FARC combatants have expressed that they wish to be processed by the JEP, according to a report published by the JEP’s Executive Secretariat.[5] A polemic issue has been whether extrajudicial executions, also known as ‘false positives’, would come under the JEP’s jurisdiction. “If the Colombian Constitutional Court approves the law in its current form, there is a risk that this will reinforce impunity – particularly within the Army – for those responsible for most of the international crimes committed in Colombia”, explains Andreas Schuller of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights.[6]

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is currently investigating 23 generals and 6 colonels, both active and retired, who commanded military units implicated in 1,228 extrajudicial killings, according to the ICC report. If these cases are not tried in the JEP or the ordinary Colombian justice system, it is probable that the members of the Security Forces will be brought before the ICC.[7]

The relatives of victims of extrajudicial executions are asking for soldiers who have been investigated or condemned to not be beneficiaries of the JEP. They argue that members of the military who committed extrajudicial executions murdered for personal benefits such as money, days off for leave, promotions and medals,[8] killed civilians not combatants, and these crimes against humanity therefore occurred outside of the armed conflict.  The Supreme Court of Justice held on 26 July that members of the Security Forces who have been investigated or condemned for extrajudicial executions can have their arrest warrants suspended if they submit to the JEP. [9]

In order to obtain the benefits of the JEP, the individual must contribute to the full truth, repair the victims and guarantee non-repetition. It is worrying that contributing to the truth does not include a specific obligation to accept responsibility for the crimes.[10] Also worrying is that only a serious breach will cause the benefits to be withdrawn, and the criteria for defining serious breaches have not been established. Lawyer Jorge Molano,[11] who is accompanied by PBI, asks: “Am I in breach if I tell a half truth or if I lie? If I don’t appear before the Truth Commission? If I admit to a crime without revealing the support structures and the identities of those who commissioned it?”.


[1] El Espectador: Esta es la lista de los magistrados para la JEP, 26 September 2017
[2] The JEP is a component of the Integrated System for Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition, as is the Commission for Clarifying the Truth and the Search Unit for Disappeared Persons.
[3] El Espectador: Los engranajes de la JEP, 1 August 2017
[4] El Espectador: Lista la convocatoria para escoger a magistrado de la JEP, 4 July 2017
[5] El Espectador: Las incógnitas de la Justicia Especial para la Paz, 22 August 2017
[6] ECCHR: Informe Amicus Curiae sobre responsabilidad de mando dentro de la Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz de Colombia, 28 July 2017
[7] El Espectador: 29 generales y coroneles, en mira de la CPI por ejecuciones extrajudiciales, 9 July 2017; Semana: “Generales Rodríguez y Lasprilla deben ser removidos”: Vivanco, 10 July 2017
[8] Colombia Plural: Las víctimas de los falsos positivos no quieren a los militares en la JEP, 13 August 2017
[9] Corte Suprema de Justicia: JEP aplica en expedientes de ejecuciones extrajudiciales, 26 July 2017
[10] Statement, Jorge Molano, During the seminar “Retos de las víctimas en el Sistema Integral de Verdad, Justicia y Reparación y No Repetición”, 23 March 2017
[11] Op. cit. Statement by Jorge Molano

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