Its approval is fundamental because it’s closely bound to the success of the implementation of Peace agreements.
After reaching a Final Agreement and being rejected by a less than 1% margin on the October 2 plebiscite (referendum type elections), the Peace Process suffered a step back but the will for peace was able to overcome this impasse. As a result, the parties sat down with representatives of the NO-camp (peace agreement detractors) and various social and political sectors in order to incorporate their demands and clarify certain points of the agreement.
A new and definitive peace agreement was reached and Colombian Congress approved these agreements, however, a very important step was still pending, and that is the form in which the most urgent, basic and necessary laws, reforms, regulations and policies where to be implemented into the Colombian legal system.
Precisely, the “Fast Track” special legislative procedure is the form in which all these elements can be incorporated into the Colombian legal system in a speedy manner in order to pass on to further and more advanced stages of the implementation of all the contemplated in the peace agreements, which will take approximately 10 to 15 years to fully implement.
In specific, the “Fast Track” reduces deadlines and allows for laws, regulations, norms and policies contemplated and drafted within the Peace Agreements to be introduced and enforced within six months and without modifications that don’t count with the approval of the executive branch.
Without this procedure, all these laws, regulations, norms and policies would be subject to modification which could result in the distortion of the spirit, reach and peace agreements themselves; an enormous risk to peace in Colombia, since next year (2017) is very close to the next election cycle in the country and legislative actions tend to be tainted with the electoral interests of the reigning political parties.
The urgent legislation needed for peace implementation is an Amnesty and pardoning Law, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and the components related to security guarantees for the FARC-EP and the social and political movements that have been subject to political persecution and violence on part of State and paramailitary forces.
Amnesty and pardoning Law
This law will allow for all political prisoners that belong to the FARC-EP and also those belonging to social and political movements that have been jailed for supposed “links” with the insurgency (as a result of the political persecution dynamics in Colombia), to be released. An approximate of about 4500 political prisoners should be benefited from this law, out of which the minority are member of the FARC-EP, the rest are citizens that have been victim of judicial hoaxes for their activity as political opponents.
Also, this contemplates the suspension of capture orders against FARC-EP members. This amnesty law is a fundamental step in order for the FARC-EP to move into the specified Transitional Local Zones of Normalization where within 6 months the organization will fully reincorporate to civilian life, regain their citizen rights and do the process of decommissioning of weapons. All of which will be verified by the Tripartite Verification and Monitoring Mechanism composed of FARC-EP delegates, Government delegates and United Nations delegates.
Special Jurisdiction for Peace
This is a core element of the Peace Agreements, without it there would be no peace agreements at all. Among others, this Special Jurisdiction for Peace is a parallel legal jurisdiction to the ordinary jurisdiction where all cases related to the conflict will be taken and in which the responsible of war crimes will respond, also, those who are currently imprisoned will continue their legal process within this special jurisdiction.
This Special Jurisdiction for Peace applies to all parties of the conflict, including government officials, politicians, FARC-EP members and civilians that have had an active and instigating role within the conflict, for example, those who have financially aided and promoted paramilitary groups and death squads.
The core premise of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace is to guarantee truth, reparation and non repetition for all victims of the armed conflict. For those who don’t declare the truth a maximum of 20 years in prison could be applied, for those who tell the truth only in a further advanced stage of their process (which would indicate the intention of not willing to tell the truth from the beginning) a sentence of maximum 8 years in prison could be applied, and for those who tell the truth upfront, special forms of reparation are contemplated as sentence.
The FARC-EP has expressed in multiple occasions that those who fear truth are not the members of the organization but rather all those others responsible for the most disastrous war crimes committed by the State, paramilitary forces and in many cases instigated, promoted and financed by certain economic sectors interested in the violent appropriation of lands, wealth, political persecution to all opponents and the continuity of war.
A Truth Commission is also part of this Special Jurisdiction for Peace, which will investigate and clarify the events occurred during the conflict. The establishment of the truth of the events occurred during the conflict is a very important step in order for Colombia and the world to know who the real war lords are, the responsible for the most atrocious crimes and the unveil of the distorted and false propaganda generated against the insurgent organization and various social and political sectors.
As a result of the fear that the FARC-EP and that social and political movements will have political guarantees for their exercise of political rights, the paramilitary phenomenon has raged against community leaders of various regions of the country in a wave of systematic murders and violation of human rights, mainly against Marcha Patriotica, a social and political movement involved with the construction of peace and political struggles for social justice.
This systematic persecution is not new in Colombia, as already stated, these actions date back from decades ago and even the legal system has been used as instrument of political persecution.
A series of specific actions in order to protect the lives of political opponents as well as the lives of reincorporated FARC-EP members and the advancement in the dismantling of paramilitary groups and/or their successor organizations will be taken.
This is crucial in order to guarantee political participation and the exercise of the freedom of speech, organization and political action, something that Colombia has not ever seen in its history.
All of the above mentioned are elements that are to be enforced and incorporated into the Colombian legal system within the next six months. They constitute the basic and most urgent elements to be implemented in order to further advance in the construction of Peace in Colombia and National Reconciliation.