JEP summons government ministers over state response to anti-FARC violence

The truth and justice tribunal created in Colombia’s 2016 peace agreement has summoned government ministers to explain what measures they are taking to tackle the high levels of violence towards FARC former guerrillas in the peace process.

The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) is seeking answers over the government response to Colombia’s spiralling human rights crisis which has claimed the lives of 236 FARC members since they entered the reincorporation process just under four years ago. The JEP says it will verify the fulfilment of security measures and whether these have been adequate.

The United Nations Verification Mission, which is based in Colombia to oversee implementation of the peace agreement, has repeatedly stated that increasing protection for former guerrillas and social activists is an urgent priority for the peace process. The issue has been cast further into the spotlight following last week’s killing of FARC member Juan de Jesús Monroy who, during an assembly between the government and former guerrillas in 2018, was given direct assurances by President Iván Duque over his security. The UN Mission has also warned over the widespread impunity around killings of FARC members.

The government ministers summoned by the JEP include the High Commissioner for Peace, Miguel Ceballos; the Presidential Commissioner for Stabilisation and Consolidation, Emilio José Archila; the Defence Minister, Carlos Holmes Trujillo; the Interior Minister, Alicia Arango; and the Attorney General, Francisco Barbosa. The meeting is scheduled for 25 November.

The JEP was created in the 2016 peace agreement to investigate war crimes and human rights violations committed by all sides during the armed conflict and to punish those guilty of serious cases. Among the cases it is investigating are the state killings of more than 2,000 civilians in so-called ‘False Positives’, the political genocide against the Patriotic Union political party and abuses against civilian populations in regions such as Urabá in northwest Colombia and Nariño in the southwest. The court has received testimony from FARC leaders and military officials.

Meanwhile, the JEP continues to face obstacles to its functioning in the congress. Members of the governing Democratic Centre party have repeatedly called for the JEP to be closed down, while President Duque last year attempted to unilaterally modify a number of its core functions, a move which was rejected by the congress. Most recently, there have been attempts to cut JEP funding which, if successful, could restrict its capacity to operate effectively. Human rights groups have expressed concern that such actions could allow those behind serious abuses to evade justice.