Eduardo Cifuentes, five years after the peace deal: “Politics is separated from the JEP”

U.S.A.Eduardo Cifuentes, five years after the peace deal: "Politics...

Bogota August 10, 2021. JEP President Judge Eduardo Cifuentes Muoz. (Colpressa – Camila Diaz)

On 24 November 2016, the Colombian state and the FARC guerrillas signed a landmark agreement, ending an armed conflict that had been in force for more than 50 years. As a result of the settlement in Havana, Cuba, Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) Truth, together with other institutions such as the Truth Commission, form a comprehensive system of justice, reparation and non-repetition.

Although the JEP was included in the final text, it was not until 2018 that this court began to carry on with its constitutional functions of administering justice to strengthen the transition towards peace. in an interview with infobe colombia, its president, magistrate Eduardo Cifuentes, mentioned the path he had taken in these two years and the progress made by him. He also mentioned the many disputes that have taken place, particularly with the Uribe region.

Infobe Colombia: Although the peace agreements are 5 years old, JEP started working only in 2018. How fast are they moving?

election Commission: la jep It does not investigate or judge individual conduct like a normal criminal judge. Here we are faced with the scenario of macro-victims and thousands of crimes, which is why they are grouped into macro cases where more than 100,000 victims can be credited in one and another 20,000 victims depending on the impact of the crime. The reason may be credited. pattern. We are always chasing down those most responsible for the worst crimes committed in the conflict.

We also collect the truth about what has happened in six decades of internal armed conflict. When this jurisdiction was established in 2018, it could not immediately enter operation as the statutory legislation was objected to by President Ivan Duque.

We actually have almost two years of effective compliance of competencies and much of what has been done in national and international standards. We have moved on to charges of two of the biggest macro-cases, one called kidnapping which has been re-classified as ‘hostage taking and serious deprivation of liberty’ and the other on extrajudicial execution of those who fought for war. appear dead as casualties and were legitimately simple defenseless innocents.

In the photo is the record of Magistrate Eduardo Cifuentes, president of the Special Jurisdiction of Peace (JEP) in Bogota (Colombia).  EFE / Carlos Ortega / Archive
In the photo is the record of Magistrate Eduardo Cifuentes, president of the Special Jurisdiction of Peace (JEP) in Bogota (Colombia). EFE / Carlos Ortega / Archive

Infobe Colombia: When will we see the first ban?

It’s not that easy when we have five other macro cases open at the same time. Much progress has been made in each of these, because if the charges are accepted, as in the case of the hostage, it is followed by a hearing of recognition that, if valid, the reconnaissance chamber leads to a sentence. which does not occur in general jurisdiction.

We are on the verge of court proceedings to issue a decision based on whether or not the charges are accepted.

Infobe Colombia: There are many citizens who still do not believe in JEP. What are they doing to assure them of their impartiality?

election Commission: The regions of the country that were initially opposed to the JEP have become convinced that this jurisdiction is an autonomous, independent and impartial jurisdiction, prepared to continue its investigation, that it has accused former members of the FARC as well. have been installed. members of the public force and third parties, and that it shall immediately issue the relevant sentence.

I think the prejudices previously expressed by a sphere of public opinion are fading. I believe our role is to continue to deliver justice, to gather more and more truths to be shared with people.

Infobe Colombia: Wasn’t it better for Xfork to first face sanction, make repairs, and then start its political process?

election Commission: I cannot give a concrete opinion on the matter as I am a Magistrate of the Appeal Section and the likely sanctions should be adopted by a section of the Court for the Peace, which determines the scope of these sanctions.

It was a process that involved the delivery of weapons, the submission of the justice component and the demonetisation of the FARC guerrillas with an explanation of the truth. This included the delivery of weapons with the aim of preventing them from joining political power through violence.

What I am telling you is the reason for the agreement, to hand over arms to continue the political struggle through democracy and not to remain a rebel body. Put your hands down to do politics, put your hands down to go for votes.

Infobe Colombia: With regard to the macro-case of false positives, how can these investigations and future decisions of JEP be separated from politics, in this case Uribism?

election Commission: The policy is different from that of JEP. The Reconnaissance Chamber can group and select cases, because in the event of such a crime, there are thousands of punishable acts. Hence they cannot be contacted personally. Based on certain standards, these clusters of cases are publicly reported to the victims and the country.

It is in no way questioning the administration of the President. We have some facts between some dates, we are not talking about any allegations against a former president, where these facts have increased and with the data available not only by jurisdiction, but other data that prosecutors The offices of the Chamber are collected themselves and of human rights organizations.

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Politics has nothing to do with the judicial action of the Court of Peace.

Bogota March 16, 2021.  MAFAPO Mothers of False Positives hold a sit-in in memory of victims of extrajudicial executions between 2000 and 2008 of 6402 false positives, in front of the JEP Building, where they also call for the right to truth.  (Colpressa-Sergio Acero)
Bogota March 16, 2021. MAFAPO Mothers of False Positives hold a sit-in in memory of victims of extrajudicial executions between 2000 and 2008 of 6402 false positives, in front of the JEP Building, where they also call for the right to truth. (Colpressa-Sergio Acero)

Infobe Colombia: Are you worried that the political circles are demanding the overthrow of JEP?

election Commission: The JEP stems from a peace agreement that was raised to the highest hierarchical constitutional norm. It was also subject to review by the Constitutional Court and the agreement responds to the state‘s international duties towards victims at the same time, such as the duty to investigate and punish those most responsible and the duty derived from the Colombian state.

I have no doubt that all governments that have taken an oath to conform to international norms and standards will abide by the agreement. If they didn’t, it would have seemed suicidal to me.

I have complete peace of mind that we have an exclusive jurisdiction for peace which is fulfilling its function well. Any gesture towards the future aimed at suppressing JEP would be foolish and not really credible. Nine million victims in Colombia will protest the dismemberment of a justice body that fights justly with punishment.

Infobe Colombia: How do you get the support of the opinion leaders who rank JEP as the second most trusted institution in the country?

election Commission: It is too provocative of the exclusive jurisdiction for peace. It is a highly technical, high level survey that focuses on those who exercise greater leadership and influence in public opinion and therefore have all the elements of a decision to issue a duly supported opinion.

To be second only to Banco Repubblica for jurisdiction established in 2018, for only a few years, is a very advanced step and it has inspired us greatly and made us even more committed.

Infobe Colombia: The Supreme Court and Constitutional Courts are also included in that survey along with JEP. What do you think is the reason for this support from opinion leaders to the judiciary, above the executive and even the legislature?

election Commission: I believe that in the context of Latin America, Colombian justice is a justice characterized by its independence and autonomy. Add to this the constitutional framework of the 1991 constitution, a constitution that embodies fundamental rights, and add to it a peace agreement on what to do with the rights of the victims. Obviously, the judiciary, whether it is ordinary justice, constitutional justice and JEP, has a mandate to specify a range of norms that are undoubtedly demanded by the holders of rights and the victims themselves.

When they see that it has been accomplished, it is clear that this is an action that enjoys civic support and is perhaps in contrast to other organs of state that may have public administrations that support the Colombian people in these deep areas. does not meet the requirements.

Infobe Colombia: What is the biggest challenge for JEP at the moment?

election Commission: JEP’s challenge remains forever and they must work with its mission: to investigate, judge and punish the most serious crimes committed in conflict. These first 7 macro-cases are to lead to sustainable progress in terms of imputation and sentencing.

Other macro cases will be opened in the coming months to complete the very thorough investigation done on armed groups. The experience that JEP has gained with the first macro-case has offered an invaluable possibility to learn deeper into the conflict and the way FARC has organized and structured itself across sectors. Also about public force policies and third party involvement.

The country is about to learn much about what happened during the internal armed conflict.

Bogota, April 19, 2021.  (Colpresa - lvaro Tavera)
Bogota, April 19, 2021. (Colpresa – lvaro Tavera)

Infobe Colombia: What’s the harshest thing you’ve seen in JEP?

election Commission: It has been shocking for magistrates and magistrates, as we know, to see so many victims for so many years and at the same time to see that they did not have access to justice in the past.

We know that the worst of adversity and adversity are painful facts that need to be known not only to the victims but to the nation as a whole. When the international community supports jurisdictions, don’t believe it’s an unnecessary gesture, that they are crimes against humanity, surpassing the victims themselves.

I believe that this is why judicial truth is so necessary, but it is a truth that we cannot see in terms of vengeful justice, but as a justice that seeks truth, an act of responsibility and Seeks through prison sentences. As much as possible to build a broken social fabric.

It is very painful to watch and it always affects our souls, but on the other hand that determines us to continue this mission of judging.

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