The International Office for Human Rights Action on Colombia

Military Criminal jurisdiction: Impunity and green light for the state security forces to continue to commit crimes

Concerns for EU reaction following reform of the military justice system which protects the State security forces from justice and leaves victims unprotected.

Brussels, June 27, 2013. On June 17, the Colombian Congress adopted the statutory law regulating military criminal jurisdiction. This statutory Law increases the concerns already raised about the constitutional reform of military criminal jurisdiction. At the same time as the Congress was passing this law, a session of the EU human rights dialogue with Colombia was also taking place. However, instead of expressing concern, the EU offered its cooperation in implementing this reform. This offer of support was repeated when Defence Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon, a fierce advocate of this reform, visited Brussels this week. The EU’s attitude is extremely worrying given the gravity of this reform, which goes against international human rights standards and has been heavily criticized, among others, by the UN.

Regulation of the military criminal jurisdiction reform – Document of analysis

The bill, which is about to be adopted, deepens and extends aspects for concern contained in the constitutional reform. It reverses the logic of IHL, converting it into a permissive instrument and protecting the state security forces from justice.

Analysis by Oidhaco in which we present the main points of concern over the bill regulating the military criminal reform which claims to “clarify” the provisions of international humanitarian law (IHL).

Threats against the independence of justice and consolidation of impunity in Colombia

Documents of analysis of recent reforms which are of concern – Military jurisdiction, Legal framework for Peace, reforms of the justice system and to the ‘Justice and Peace Law’, the Law on intelligence and counterintelligence.

In December 2012 the Colombian Congress adopted the constitutional reform to military criminal jurisdiction, driven by the government of President Santos.

Women in Colombia – Factsheet

This document presents key data and figures can be found on the situation of women in Colombia as well as specific legislation and mechanisms protecting them. Recommendations are made to the international community.

In Colombia, as in other countries, women suffer violence and discrimination in all aspects of their lives. In 2011, 70,134 cases of domestic violence against women were reported, as well as 18,982 cases of sexual violence – an increase of 11% when compared with 2010, and 130 cases of femicide. While progress has been made in the formal recognition of these crimes, the lack of implementation of norms and generalised impunity leads to worsening violence.

LAW ON INTELLIGENCE AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE – Shield for intelligence activities and absence of guarantees of non-repetition

The scandal of illegal intelligence activities by the DAS lead to its elimination and to the reform of Law on intelligence. This document presents an analysis of the new Law and of the measures adopted.

Almost all former DAS employees were transferred to other State institutions – mainly the Attorney General’s Office, the police force and the new National Protection Unit in charge of protecting defenders, trade unionists, journalists, etc. – without investigation of or sanctions for the crimes that they may have committed while working in the DAS.

Forced disappearance in Colombia – Persistence of and impunity for this extremely serious crime

In the month of January 2013 alone, according to the Institute of Legal Medicine, 474 additional cases of disappearance were reported. Of these, many could be enforced disappearances. Document of analysis and recommendations on this issue.

In its November 2012 report, the Office of the ICC Prosecutor determined that “there is a reasonable basis to believe that, since November 1, 2002”, disappearances constituting crimes against humanity have been committed by Colombian State organs.

Extension of military jurisdiction – Serious concerns over constitutional reform of the military criminal justice process

The government of President Santos has been pushing for a constitutional amendment that seeks to expand military criminal jurisdiction, that is about to be approved.

As highlighted by eleven UN human rights experts on 22 October 2012, “should this reform be approved, it could seriously undermine the administration of justice for cases of alleged violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including serious crimes, by military or police forces (Fuerza Pública)”. In the conclusions of its 146 regular session of 16 November 2012, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights “call(ed) to mind that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has established that the State has the obligation to provide effective judicial recourse to victims of human rights violations, and the Commission believes that such recourse, in all cases, is through the regular criminal jurisdiction, regardless of whether or not the violations being prosecuted were committed by members of the military”.