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Keys to the operation of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace in Colombia

In September 2015, the creation of a Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) was agreed in Colombia, in an attempt to determine responsibilities for the violent events that occurred after the armed conflict that continues in the country.

Last September 2017, the Aldana Foundation, represented by its president Alan Aldana, participated in the. Seventh International Seminar on Interculturality, Truth, Justice and Intercultural Dialogue for Reconciliationheld in the city of Cali, Colombia. The intention of the event was to generate a space for knowledge, reflection, dialogue and debate on the Final Agreement for the termination of the conflict and the construction of a stable and lasting peace, included in all the negotiations that allowed the creation in that same year of the First Committee of the House of Representatives of the Congress of Colombia approved in first debate the creation of the JEP.

The agreement, which arose after negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), establishes the goal of complying with the State's duty to investigate, clarify, judge and punish serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law that occurred in the context of the armed conflict.

The actions of the Special Jurisdiction

In all the proceedings of this Jurisdiction, the right to truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition are taken into account, as well as the seriousness and consequences of the harm caused to the victims. For this reason, each case dealt with must meet the conditions established in relation to these rights.

It should be noted that the Special Jurisdiction will prevail over any criminal proceedings, The SJP is a disciplinary or administrative body designed to deal with the events that occurred in the context of the conflict. However, this does not prevent the ordinary justice system from continuing its investigations, as well as judging and punishing crimes and conducts that do not fall under the jurisdiction of the SJP.

Individuals may exercise their right to defense before all the organs of the Jurisdiction and appeal to the resolutions and sentences of the chambers and sections. All decisions of the SJP shall be based exclusively on reliable and admissible evidence.

This body will define the treatment of those responsible for crimes against humanity.through a special legal system designed as part of the peace process. As part of the approaches accepted in the JEP, amnesty is granted to those guerrillas who are not implicated in heinous crimes such as kidnapping, sexual violence, executions outside combat. This measure will apply only to those accused of taking up arms against the State.

According to the stipulations, the JEP will operate for 15 years, extendable, and the imposition of sanctions by this Jurisdiction will not have the capacity to disqualify the accused from political participation, will not limit the exercise of any right and does not contemplate extradition in any of the cases.

Peace at work

The SJP is composed of 51 magistrates (38 regular and 13 alternate magistrates) and 14 foreign jurists as amicus curiae. Its internal structure is organized into an Executive Secretariat and five organs, namely: Chamber for the Recognition of Truth and Responsibility and Determination of Facts and Conduct; Chamber for Amnesty and Pardon; Chamber for the Definition of Legal Situations; Investigation and Indictment Unit; and the Tribunal for Peace, consisting of five sections.

The Executive Secretariat is responsible for the administration, management and execution of the resources assigned to the operation of the SJP. The Chamber for the Acknowledgment of Truth and Responsibility and Determination of Facts and Conduct is responsible for receiving reports from the Prosecutor's Office, the military criminal justice system, the Accusations Commission, the Attorney General's Office, the Comptroller General's Office or any other related institution. It also informs those involved of the case and forwards the lists of persons to the corresponding chambers.

The Amnesty and Clemency Chamber applies the measures for the following crimes who may be subject to amnesty or pardon, according to the recommendation offered by the Chamber for the Recognition of Truth and Responsibility and Determination of Facts. For its part, the Chamber for the Definition of Legal Situations will be responsible for identifying the legal situation of all those who have agreed to the legal process.

The Investigation and Prosecution Unit will carry out the pertinent studies and investigations with a view to bringing criminal action before the Tribunal for Peace, which will ultimately have in its hands the mission of judging the crimes committed as a result of the armed conflict, especially crimes against humanity, war crimes, among other crimes.

Sanctions to be applied with the Special Jurisdiction

This entire legal system may impose three types of sanctions. The proper ones are the sanctions applied to those who acknowledge truth and responsibility. Serious crimes, in this case, will have a maximum penalty of 8 years.

Alternative sanctions are imposed on those who acknowledge truth and responsibility before the Trial Division prior to sentencing. The penalties in this case also range from 5 to 8 years imprisonment. However, those who have not participated in the most serious cases of human rights violations will serve 2 to 5 years in prison.

On the other hand, ordinary penalties will be imposed on those who have not acknowledged responsibility and will still be sentenced by the Court. The sentence will be determined according to the gravity of the crime and will range from 15 to 20 years of imprisonment.

The JEP will grant pardons for political and related crimes such as the political crime of rebellion or the illegal carrying of weapons, in the case of related crimes. However, genocide, crimes against humanity, serious war crimes, kidnapping and torture will not be subject to amnesty, extrajudicial executions and forced disappearance.

Sources consulted