UN Verification Mission calls on Congress to pass transitional justice law

On 26 June, the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia released a statement on the implementation of the peace process in Colombia.

The statement comes days after Colombia’s president-elect Iván Duque ordered congress to halt debate on the procedural terms of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), the peace agreement’s transitional justice mechanism designed to establish truth around the conflict and justice for victims. Without clarity over procedure, it will be highly difficult, if not impossible, for the JEP to establish clear guidelines for the effective application of justice.

You can read the full UN statement below:

The Colombian peace process is notable for the emphasis it places on ensuring that the transition from an armed conflict to peace is accompanied by truth, justice, reparation for the victims and non-repetition. Within this commitment, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP by its Spanish acronym) is responsible for fulfilling the aspirations of Colombian society for justice within the framework of national and international standards and in line with the specific requirements of the peace process.

In accordance with the Peace Agreement, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace has been constitutionally established with the endorsement of the Constitutional Court and the support, among others, of the Supreme Court of Justice. It opened its doors to the public on 15 March of this year.

However, three months later, the JEP continues without the rules of procedure required to provide greater legal clarity to inform the decisions of its magistrates. More than a year after the approval of Legislative Act01, which created the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-repetition, victims are still waiting for the first hearings of those who were involved in serious violations of human rights and International Humanitarian Law. Those who come under the jurisdiction of the JEP continue to face uncertainty regarding their own legal situation.

The recent legislative and presidential elections have illustrated the tangible benefits of the Peace Agreement reached between the Government and the FARC-EP: the most peaceful and participatory cycle of elections in decades. It is time for victims to benefit without further delay from the commitments on accountability for those under the jurisdiction of the JEP as established in the Peace Agreement.

The members of the Security Council, in their statement of 19 April on the presentation of the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, unanimously “welcomed the positive developments over the past three months, including […] the activation of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and the Unit for the Search for Missing Persons, and expressed their hope that this progress would be sustained”.

The United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia calls on the competent Colombian institutions and political actors to remove the obstacles that continue to impede Colombia’s peace process from fulfilling its commitments to justice and victims’ rights.

Read the statement on the UN website