Colombia’s Senate has heeded newly-elected president Ivan Duque’s call to indefinitely postpone the debate of a bill on the procedures to apply the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, a pillar of the peace accords signed between the Colombian government and the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP for its Spanish acronym) is a justice mechanism for those involved in Colombia’s over half a century-long armed conflict. It was created as a system for accountability to guarantee the victims’ right to justice and clarify crimes perpetrated by the state and the guerrillas.
The JEP was created last November, but a Constitutional Court’s ruling on the law establishing the JEP is still pending. Duque has argued that Congress should wait for the court’s decision before creating the JEP’s procedures, but the current Juan Manuel Santos led government insists that this is not necessary.
On Monday president Santos sent several ministers, including Interior Minister Guillermo Rivera, Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas, and Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas to the Senate to try to sway the vote but all of their statements proved ineffective.
The country's next legislature will now be tasked with debating the bill when its term starts on July 20.
“Welcome to Duque’s peace,” senator and former vice-presidential candidate Claudia Lopez of the Green Alliance said in a video shared through social media.
“To postpone the JEP is the first great gesture for peace of the new young president who wants reconciliation,” she lamented.
Minister Rivera announced “we will insist… We have the unwavering commitment to legally implement the peace accord, and if by Wednesday this project is not approved we will call extra sessions.”
Former presidential candidate Gustavo Petro, who lost the June 17 elections but became the leftist candidate that received the most votes in Colombian history, called on citizens to mobilize to defend the peace accords and criticized Congress' failure to uphold the importance of the JEP.
“The JEP exchanges prison sentences for truth for all armed actors. It is the base of reconciliation, but some politicians don’t want the truth to be known. Do you imagine who?" he said.
During his presidential campaign, Ivan Duque openly criticized the JEP and the peace accords arguing they guarantee impunity.
Duque will have a comfortable majority in the country's Congress.