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Colombia - International Criminal Court

Promotion and reinforcement of the International Criminal Court in Colombia

The objective of the project on the International Criminal Court (ICC), created in partnership with LWB in Brussels, is to promote the victims' use of the legal mechanisms meant to sanction, at the highest levels, the individuals responsible for grave human rights violations committed in Colombia, and also to fight against impunity, which remains strong.

Context

More than five years have passed since the implementation of a Colombian law (Law 975, known as the Justice and Peace Law) that aspired to be a model of transitional justice, aiming to demobilize paramilitaries while at the same time bringing to light and to justice grave human rights abuses committed in the context of the armed conflict that has torn the country apart. However, this ultimate goal of truth and justice still appears to be out of reach. In fact, the criminal procedures initiated against hundreds of paramilitaries who accepted to face reduced sentences for the crimes they committed in exchange for confessions, have, to date, only led to one conviction.

The lack of significant progress in achieving justice and combating impunity, and the resulting belief by victims that this process cannot fulfill their expectations, explain the fact that victims are losing interest in this so-called “Justice and Peace” process. In order to overcome these shortcomings, there are calls urging the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an investigation into this process.

The ICC is, in fact, the only international tribunal with jurisdiction to eventually judge the individual criminal responsibility of the high-ranking officials responsible for the most serious human rights violations committed in Colombia. Although the ICC has stated that it will closely monitor the development of the legal procedures initiated by the Colombian justice system against individuals who have been charged with crimes that fall within the ICC’s competence, on the basis of the principles of subsidiarity and complementarity, it has, to date, refrained from proceeding further.

In order to raise awareness within the Colombian legal community about the work of the ICC, and to encourage the members of this community to examine the crucial issues linked to the persistence of impunity in Colombia, LWBC affiliated itself to LWB Brussels (LWBB). LWBB's efforts aim to reinforce the ties between civil society and the ICC in many countries (namely Uganda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, East Timor, Nepal and Colombia). LWBC is responsible for the project’s activities in Colombia, while LWBB coordinates the project and is the implementing agency in the other countries.
 

Goals

In order to contribute to the punishment of those responsible and to the compensation of victims of the most serious human rights violations, the project aims to reinforce and promote the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in Colombia.

This goal includes many sub-goals:

  • To increase the awareness and deepen the understanding about the ICC of the beneficiary groups identified by the Project;
  • To support the adoption of Colombian legislation for the implementation of the international treaty establishing the ICC ( the Rome Statute);
  • To support investigations in Colombia dealing with crimes under the ICC’s jurisdiction;
  • To offer legal assistance to victims who wish to take part in hearings before national courts and, eventually, before the ICC.
     
Partners

LWBC is a partner of LWB in Brussels and acts as the implementing agency for the Colombian component of the program. LWBB has the overall responsibility of ensuring the program’s progress in the countries where activities are planned.

In the field in Colombia, LWBC’s main partner is the Asociación colombiana de abogados defensores « Eduardo Umaña Mendoza » - ACADEUM.

Up to 80% of the funding for this project is provided by the European Commission through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights - EIDHR.
 

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