This content is not available in your region

ICC closes preliminary war crimes examination into Colombia after 17 years

Access to the comments Comments
By Reuters

<div> <p>By Luis Jaime Acosta</p> <p><span class="caps">BOGOTA</span> – The International Criminal Court said on Thursday it would close a 17-year preliminary examination into Colombia for war crimes and crimes against humanity in recognition of efforts to combat impunity and guarantee justice for victims.</p> <p>The preliminary examination, opened in 2004, was the longest in the court’s history. The <span class="caps">ICC</span> can only officially step in if a state is unwilling or unable to prosecute war crimes in its jurisdiction.</p> <p>Colombia and the court have been in permanent contact to ensure crimes like murders, disappearances, torture, kidnappings and forced displacements do not take place with impunity, officials said.</p> <p>“I am delighted to say that Colombia has stepped up to its international obligations, to its Rome Statute obligations and consistent with the principle of complementarity, I am delighted to say I can step out of the preliminary examination phase,” <span class="caps">ICC</span> prosecutor Karim Khan said at an event with President Ivan Duque.</p> <p>Despite a 2016 peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (<span class="caps">FARC</span>) rebels, Colombia’s nearly six-decade armed conflict has not ended.</p> <p>The <span class="caps">FARC</span> deal created the Special Jurisdiction for Peace(<span class="caps">JEP</span>) transitional justice tribunal, which is trying ex-rebels and military officials for crimes related to the conflict.</p> <p>Khan expressed his support for the <span class="caps">JEP</span> – criticized by some as being too lenient – and said a new cooperation agreement between the government and the <span class="caps">ICC</span> would ensure it could function without political interference.</p> <p>Duque has come under fire for not sufficiently backing the <span class="caps">JEP</span>, which can impose lighter sentences on former fighters if they give full testimonies about their crimes.</p> <p>Khan warned the <span class="caps">ICC</span> can always reopen the examination if Colombia fails in its obligations, while Duque said the agreement would allow Colombia to share future progress.</p> <p>The agreement could put the <span class="caps">JEP</span> at risk, Human Rights Watch (<span class="caps">HRW</span>) Americas director Jose Miguel Vivanco said.</p> <p>“The <span class="caps">ICC</span> prosecutor’s decision to close the Colombia preliminary examination … is premature, misinformed, and detrimental to justice,” he said on Twitter. “The country’s transitional justice system may now be an easier target.”</p> <p/> </div>