Orders to apprehend Colombian military service members could be suspended

By July 27, 2017

Members of Colombia’s armed service who have been accused of “extrajudicial executions” have been granted a reprieve by the Colombian Supreme Court. The court announced yesterday that any members of the Colombian military that have been accused of war crimes can present themselves to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), where they will instead receive unspecified sanctions rather than criminal penalties.

The reprieve is different than the full pardon that many former members of the FARC terrorist organization have received, but the ruling has been welcomed by some on the right who have criticized the prosecution of members of the Colombian military.

According to preliminary data, the International Criminal Court was planning to bring charges against 23 Colombian generals and 6 colonels, retired and active, claiming that they committed more than 1,000 extra-judiciary executions during the armed conflict with the FARC terrorist group. Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has argued that the court has no jurisdiction under Colombian law to prosecute its citizens.

In order for apprehension orders to be suspended, accused military personnel must agree to appear before a judge commissioned by the JEP and they must apply for the reprieve within the next ten days. If the personnel do not apply within the required time period, orders for their arrest will be issued and they will be prosecuted according to criminal law.

In order to be eligible for reduced penalties by the JEP, applicants must have been part of the Colombian military when the crimes were committed, the crimes must have been part of an armed conflict with the FARC, and the crimes must have been committed before the Havana Accords were signed in late 2016.

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