Search

Weekly Update from The Special Jurisdiction of Peace in Colombia

15 March - 22 March


The Guernica Group

For The Guernica Group, the work developed by the Integral System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and No Repetition (SIVJRNR) of Colombia is essential to carry out and consolidate the Peace Accord. Victims are the central pillar and the guarantee for the need to define the truth and ensure accountability for key episodes of violence committed during the armed conflict, as the basis of long-lasting reconciliation. The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) has the potential to develop new legal precedents that could reshape the work of international criminal lawyers and generate a valuable legacy for the whole Latin American region.


Accordingly, The Guernica Group will provide weekly media updates from the Special Jurisdiction for Peace in order to expand the JEP’s outreach and generate debate around the cases, the judicial proceedings and the procedures of the different Chambers. The summary of the news will be published in both English and Spanish, and will include links to the relevant articles:



In Colombia, From 15th of March to 22nd of March


Victims of sexual violence, committed by FARC, ask that their cases pass through the JEP:


Victims of sexual violence, committed by FARC during the armed conflict, claimed that only the transitional justice of the JEP could uncover the truth and offer reparations. Many of them have been living with the knowledge that their body was used to instil terror. However, many victims still don’t know the identity or motivation of their abuser. In the transitional justice system, of which JEP is part, there is a fundamental aim for the application of justice; the truth. If it does not accomplish this principle they lose the benefits, like the 8-year penalty limit, without facing jail. This does not happen in the ordinary justice system.


The national coordinator of the Network of Women Victims and Professionals, Ángela Escobar, supported this idea: “If this remains in traditional justice, the abuser will not confess to the truth because they will face 60 years in prison. He will think “why should I tell the truth, it would be better that they investigate prove it”. More, traditional justice does not include extrajudicial mechanisms that allow actors to tell the truth without judicial risk, like in the transitional justice with the Truth Commission. The commission will receive the testimonies of these actors from the conflict in order to untangle the patterns of violence in armed conflict.


Source:

El Espectador, “Víctimas de violencia sexual de las Farc piden que sus casos los lleve la JEP”, 22 of March 2019, available at: https://colombia2020.elespectador.com/jep/victimas-de-violencia-sexual-de-las-farc-piden-que-sus-casos-los-lleve-la-jep


Ex-paramilitary commander’s express willingness to share their truth with the Truth Commission:


In an announcement signed by 17 ex-leaders of the United Self-defence of Colombia (AUC), the AUC’s National Collective of Demobilization expressed their willingness to share their truth in the truth commission and at the National Centre of Historic Memory. These ex-paramilitary commanders emphasized that, despite the 12 years that have passed since the Justice and Peace law and their contributing to the truth, not everything is known.


“Colombian society and all within it, want to know what happened in this massive conflict and see why society is abandoning the opportunity for this country to close the door. That is why all that have participated in the conflict share the truth with the country, so that our children and other generations don’t repeat it,” expressed Fredy Rendón Herrera, ex-commander of the Élmer Cárdenas block and known in the war as “the German”. The letter was also signed by Rodrigo Pérez Alzate (Julián Bolívar), who was the leader of the Central Bolivar Block, Ramón Isaza (Caruso), ex-leader of the Peasant self-defence Force of Magdalena Medio: Edwar Cobos Téllez (Diego Vecino), ex-leader of the Héroes of the María Mountains Block, Iván Roberto Duque (Ernesto Báez), ideologist of the United Self-Defence Force of Colombia, among others.


Rendón Herrera noted that the National Group of Demobilized AUC members has informed the commission of their intention to transfer the Peace and Justice information into the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation, and No Repetition, created by the peace accords with FARC: “We express the importance of justice, peace and the JEP and so would join in order that the country can actually know the truth. We say that there are 15,000 notarized copies of the Justice and Peace documents and that is a massive truth” stated Rendón Herrera.

Source:

El Espectador, “Excomandantes paramilitares se presentarán ante la Comisión de la Verdad”, 22 March 2019, available at: https://colombia2020.elespectador.com/verdad/excomandantes-paramilitares-se-presentaran-ante-la-comision-de-la-verdad


Rodrigo Granda, ex-leader of FARC, presents his voluntary account before the JEP:


This past 22nd March 2019, Rodrigo Grada – ex-leader of FARC – came to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) to present his free account of the kidnappings committed during the armed conflict. The hearing occurred within the framework of case 001 called “Illegal retention of persons by FARC-EP”, for which the JEP called in 31 members of the FARC secretariat in order to clarify the truth of the kidnappings. These proceedings are conducted in closed-door meetings and will run until next May. The victims will learn the content of these proceedings that will be compared to reports provided by their organizations, social groups, and entities like the Office of the National Attorney General.


Source:

RCN Radio, “Rodrigo Granda rinde versión libre ante la JEP”, 22 march 2019, available at: https://www.rcnradio.com/judicial/rodrigo-granda-rinde-version-libre-ante-la-jep


The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (CIDH) has called upon the Colombian state to adopt necessary measures so that the Statutory Law comes into force:


In their 2018 annual report, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights called upon the Colombian state to adopt necessary measures in order to advance the definition and valid implementation of the Statutory Law that regulated the proceedings of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP). The report was presented by Emerelda Arosamena de Troitiño, the CIDH president, who added that they were worried that more than two years after its ratification and one year after its implementation, the JEP does not have this law. In the report, released March 21st in Washington, the CIDH asked for “respect for the principal of separation of powers and the authorities that have intervened in the legal project’s passing and exam of its constitutionality. This is in order to advance the implementation of the Peace accords and guarantee the victim’s rights.”


Source:

El Espectador, “CIDH alerta porque la JEP no tiene Ley Estatutaria”, 21 March de 2019, available at: https://colombia2020.elespectador.com/jep/cidh-alerta-porque-la-jep-no-tiene-ley-estatutaria

Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz, “CIDH preocupada porque la JEP no cuenta con una Ley Estatutaria”, 21 march 2019, available at : https://www.jep.gov.co/Sala-de-Prensa/Paginas/CIDH-preocupada-porque-la-JEP-no-cuenta-con-una-Ley-Estatutaria.aspx


Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner of Human Rights for the UN, asks for speed in discussion of the objectives of the JEP Statutory Law:


Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner of Human Rights at the United Nations, urged on Wednesday that the Colombian government apply, in a comprehensive manner, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) and to quickly review the objections to the draft law. “I encourage the Government to implement the Special Justice for Peace in a comprehensive manner and, with regard to the presidential decision to object to 6 articles of the Statutory Law, I encourage the Government and the Legislature, as well as all interested parties, to discuss and review these items quickly” expressed Bachelet, from Geneva, Switzerland, where the Annual Report on Human Rights was presented.


According to the High Commissioner, to establish a rapid resolution to the Statutory Law, the JEP must “function in a more independent manner, while reinforcing the legal security of the victims”

It should be noted that the United Nations has requested with concern on several occasions, the need for a statutory law on the JEP. On the 13th March, Antonio Gutérres, Secretary General of the UN, expressed “his hope that they take rapid measures to ensure that this legal basis (Statutory law) is established as soon as possible, guaranteeing the rights of the victims and the judicial security of all interested parties”.


Source:

Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz, “Michelle Bachelet, alta Comisionada de la ONU para los DD.HH, pide celeridad en discusión de objeciones a la Ley Estatutaria de la JEP”, 20th March 2019, available at: https://www.jep.gov.co/Sala-de-Prensa/Paginas/Michelle-Bachelet-,-Alta-Comisionada-de-la-ONU-pide-celeridad-en-discusi%C3%B3n-de-objeciones-a-la-Ley-Estatutaria.aspx


Lawyers for Henry Castellanos, better known in the war as Romaña, asked to delay his appearance before the JEP as part of case 001 on illegal retention:


The lawyer for Henry Castellanos, better known as Romaña in the war, argued in front of the magistrates of the Hall of Recognition and Truth that the ex-commander did not present his free account of events on March 20th and asked to delay his date because he feared for his life and those of his family, who have already received threats from armed groups, FARC dissidents, and common delinquents. As the editor of El Espectador –Colombia2020 already established, the lawyer passed the request for a postponement yesterday after 5pm, when the time limits allowed by the JEP to present the reasons as to why the ex-gorillas required another date to present their voluntary versions.


During the diligence, the lawyer added that in the communication he had with Castellanos, he told him that the ex-guerrillas feel legal uncertainty due to the presidential objections to the draft statute law of the JEP and that he fears that he will be extradited by the ordinary courts. Even so, he reiterated his commitment to the abandonment of arms and to contribute the truth to the Integral System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition created after the peace agreement. After listening to the lawyer, the Recognition Room announced that it will study the request for a change of date and that, in addition, it will request information from the authorities on Castellanos' security conditions in order to make its decision.


Source:

El Espectador, “Romaña pide aplazamiento para comparecer ante la JEP”, 20 March 2019, available at: https://colombia2020.elespectador.com/jep/romana-pide-aplazamiento-para-comparecer-ante-la-jep


Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz, “Sala de Reconocimiento estudiará solicitud de Henry Castellanos de cambio de fecha de su versión dentro del caso 001”, 20 March 2019, available at: https://www.jep.gov.co/Sala-de-Prensa/Paginas/JEP-estudiar%C3%A1-solicitud-de-Henry-Castellanos-de-cambio-de-fecha-de-su-versi%C3%B3n-dentro-del-caso-001.aspx


The Constitutional Court of Colombia refused to pronounce on President Ivan Duque’s objections to the Statutory law, until congress debates the seven contentious articles:


This past Wednesday, March 20th, 2019, the Colombian Constitutional Court decided they would not pronounce on the seven points of the Law of Special Justice that the president objected to on March 10th until congress had debated them.


The president of the court, Gloria Ortiz, advanced that, once the process in congress had concluded the court would be able to release its opinion. This signifies that, if Congress accepts Duque’s objections and modifies the JEP regulation, the magistrates could apply the constitutional control mechanism. The court pointed out that the members of parliament had until the 20th of June of this year to debate the seven controversial points in the law. The Colombian Legislative Power is bicameral, consisting of Senate and House of Representatives. However, as the JEP regulation is part of the special laws of the peace agreement, the debate on the resolutions must be held in joint sessions.


Source:

BBC News, “JEP: la Corte Constitucional de Colombia rechaza pronunciarse sobre las polémicas objeciones de Duque a la justicia para la paz. ¿Qué pasará ahora?”, 21 March 2019, available on: https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-47647953


The Senate defines the accidental commission that will study the objections to the JEP Statutory Law:


The president of the Senate, Ernesto Macías, has established the names of the nine congressmen that will be tasked with studying the objections presented by the president of the Republic, Ivan Duque, regarding the seven of the 159 articles of the statutory law of the Special Jurisdiction of Peace (JEP).


Ernesto Macías revealed that the commission will consist of: Paloma Valencia, of the Central Democrats; José David Name, of the U Party; Antonio Zabaraín, of Radical Change; Julián Bedoya, of the Liberal Party; David Barguil, of the Conservative Party; John Milton Rodríguez, of Colombia Justa Libre; Jonaton Tamayo, of the Decentes: Iván Marulanda, of the Green Alliance; and Jesús Alberto Castilla, of the Democratic Pole.


Source:

El Espectador, “Senado definió comisión accidental que estudiará las objeciones a la JEP”, 20 March 2019, Available at: https://www.elespectador.com/noticias/politica/senado-definio-comision-accidental-que-estudiara-las-objeciones-la-jep-articulo-845921


JEP visits ex-leaders of FARC in Pondores, La Guajira, in order to verify conditional and reincoporation rules:


On March 10th, two magistrates of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) visited a Territorial Space for Training and Reincorporation (ETCR) in Pondores, a territorial space that has the presence of several former guerrilla leaders, among them Joaquín Gómez, for the first time. They travelled with an entourage including a work team, the protection company, and representatives from multilateral entities. Around 250 men and women from FARC who gave up their weapons currently live in Pondores.


The objective of the visit of the JEP Recognition Room was to verify the conditionality and reincorporation regime of the heads of the FARC, former members of the secretariat and staff. The visit was made at the request of the FARC, taking advantage of the fact that on the following Monday the magistrates would hear in a reserved hearing Milton de Jesús Toncel, better known as Joaquín Gómez, in Riohacha. He himself, along with Bertulfo Álvarez, aka Juan Hermilo Cabrera, and Abelardo Caicedo Colorado, better known as Solís Almeida, were in charge of receiving the JEP team.


Source:

Semana, “Así fue la visita de la JEP a jefes de la Farc en Pondores, La Guajira”, 20 March 2019, available at: https://www.semana.com/nacion/articulo/asi-fue-la-visita-de-la-jep-a-jefes-de-la-farc-en-pondores-la-guajira/606122


According to JEP judge, Catalina Día, members of the Public Force that have taken refuge in the JEP have also been affected by the presidential decision to object to the Statutory Law:


The judge of the Chamber of recognition and truth of the JEP - Catalina Diaz - has stated that one of the consequences of the presidential objection to the Statutory Law of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace is the anxiety that has been created among members of the public forces, who have voluntarily accepted the benefits of the special jurisdiction for peace.


"The objections have left a sense of non-compliance, of legal insecurity, not only in the ex-combatants of the FARC but also in the members of the approximately 57 military members they have heard in the recognition room, they are afraid that they are going to go through your case, applying the rules of the game that are in the statutory law".


Source:

WRadio, “Miembros de la fuerza pública también se han visto afectados por la decisión presidencial”, 19 March 2019, available at: http://www.wradio.com.co/noticias/actualidad/miembros-de-la-fuerza-publica-tambien-se-han-visto-afectados-por-la-decision-presidencial/20190319/nota/3879354.aspx


Hernán Dario Velásquez Saldarriaga, known as “El Paisa”, doesn’t perform his voluntary account before the JEP:


Hernán Darío Velásquez Saldarriaga, known as 'El Paisa' - former commander of the FARC guerrillas - did not appear on Monday, March 18, before the JEP's Recognition Chamber, which has ordered the 31 members since February of the Central Staff to present their voluntary versions of events within the framework of case 001, on the illegal retention of persons by the FARC-EP.


"Velásquez Saldarriaga, who was commander of the Teófilo Forero mobile column, has not stated any reason until March 18 to not comply with his voluntary summons. The first condition to maintain the benefits of the JEP is to appear when called. “Other conditions are: not to reoffend and contribute to the satisfaction of the rights of the victims," said the JEP statement of March 18. According to the law, as of March 18, 2019, 'El Paisa' would have three working days to present the reasons for his absence, arguments that the magistrates will study. However, this is only one of the list of breaches of the ex-combatant, whose whereabouts are unknown since July last year, when he decided to leave the re-entry area of ​​Miravalle, in Caquetá.


Finally, on Friday, March 22, three days after the unexpected absence of the former guerrilla leader from his voluntary version in the JEP, his lawyer argued that his client was absent due to security considerations and legal uncertainty in the area in which he lives.


On the other hand, two months ago, the JEP began the practice of testing 11 entities to determine their location and follow up the reinstatement process of Velásquez Saldarriaga. He also made a request to the Ministry of Defense to provide information about the possible rearming of "El Paisa". The entities had the deadline to submit their test report on Thursday, March 21. From that moment, it remains available to the appellant, his defense and the Attorney General, to present their allegations within a period of 10 days.


Regarding this citation, to date eight former guerrilla leaders have appeared: Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, Miltón de Jesús Toncel Redondo, Julián Gallo Cubillos, Edgar López Gómez, Pastor Alape Lascarro, Pablo Catatumbo Torres, José Benito Cabrera and Seuxis Paucias Hernández Solarte, who have all fulfilled their commitment to appear before the court to contribute to the search for the truth within case 001.


Source:

El Espectador, “‘El Paisa’ no rindió su versión voluntaria ante la JEP”, 18 March 2019, available at: https://colombia2020.elespectador.com/jep/el-paisa-no-rindio-su-version-voluntaria-ante-la-jep


Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz, “​La JEP advierte graves consecuencias para Hernán Darío Velásquez Saldarriaga por su no comparecencia a versión”, 18 March 2019, available at: https://www.jep.gov.co/Sala-de-Prensa/Paginas/JEP-advierte-graves-consecuencias-para-Hern%C3%A1n-Dar%C3%ADo-Vel%C3%A1squez-por-su-no-comparecencia-a-versi%C3%B3n.aspx


The Ex-paramilitary commander Pablo Hernán Sierra Garcia, alias “Alberto Guerrero” that accused the ex-president Álvaro Uribe of having connections with the United Self-defence forces of Colombia (AUC), asks to be heard before the JEP:


Former paramilitary commander, Bloc Cacique Pipintá of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) - Pablo Hernán Sierra García, alias 'Alberto Guerrero' - has sent a letter to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace in which he asks to be heard. 'Alberto Guerrero', who has been deprived of his liberty in the maximum-security prison of Cómbita (Boyacá), reiterated his accusations against former President Álvaro Uribe Vélez and his brother, cattle rancher Santiago Uribe, of having links with the paramilitaries and promoting the creation of the Metro Block of the AUC.


In a sense, Guerrero indicated that this illegal armed group had a direct participation in the presidential candidacy of Uribe Vélez in the year 2000. "It would not have been possible without the coexistence of all of these within AUC coming to power during the election of President Uribe in the first and second round ". In 2015, the first municipal criminal court of Itagüí (Antioquia) acquitted 'Alberto Guerrero' of the crimes of insult and slander for which he had been denounced by the Uribe Vélez brothers after hearing his statement in which he linked them with paramilitary groups.


Source:

RCN Radio, “Exjefe paramilitar que acusó a Álvaro Uribe de tener nexos con las AUC pide pista en la JEP”, 18 March 2019, available at: https://www.rcnradio.com/judicial/exjefe-paramilitar-que-acuso-alvaro-uribe-de-tener-nexos-con-las-auc-pide-pista-en-la-jep


18M: The day in which hundreds of Colombians came out to support the JEP:

On Monday, March 18, Colombians throughout the country and abroad came together to show their support and solidarity with the Special Jurisdiction for Peace. They were defending peace in Colombia, against the objections to the statutory law and the possibility of returning to war.


Alejandra Dulcey one of the organizers of the day of support in Barranquilla, told the media Caracol Radio that; "victims do not want the progress achieved, to be lost. If you continue with the objection of the 6 articles of the JEP, there will be a train collision."


Click here to see the photos of the congregations in support of the JEP.


Source:

El Espectador, “(Galería) 18M: El día en que cientos de colombianos salieron a apoyar la JEP”, 18 March 2019, available at: https://colombia2020.elespectador.com/jep/galeria-18m-el-dia-en-que-cientos-de-colombianos-salieron-apoyar-la-jep


Caracol Radio, “Organizaciones sociales marcharon contra las objeciones a la JEP”, 19 March 2019, available at: http://caracol.com.co/emisora/2019/03/19/barranquilla/1552963257_055620.html


Victims of the conflict in Tolima participate in the forum "Voices of the victims: participation and restorative justice", promoted by the JEP and the Procurator's Office: