Colombian army special forces during a technical demonstration in the Tolemaida Air Base, 2007. Photo by Tech Sgt Jerry Morrison for U.S. Air Force, CC0
Andes, Colombia, Today in Latin America

Colombian Senate approves transitional justice law, but with changes

June 28, 2018 By Staff

TODAY IN LATIN AMERICA

COLOMBIA: The Senate approved yesterday the bill that creates an operating manual for the special peace justice, the lynchpin of the peace process with the FARC, but with two major modifications introduced by the Democratic Center party of President Elect Iván Duque and former president Álvaro Uribe.

The first limits the peace tribunal’s jurisdiction when a foreign country makes a request for extradition. This affects directly the former FARC commander known as Jesús Santrich who was arrested on April 9 on a request for extradition by the  United States. The second creates a chamber inside the special peace justice for former members of the public forces with specific judges knowledgeable in military law and where there is a bigger emphasis on the presumption of innocence and a space for the institutional defense of the army and the police. Gustavo Petro, the losing presidencial candidate, said on Twitter that “Uribe doesn’t want the servicemen who committed crimes against humanity to stand in front of the special peace justice to improve their legal situation because they would have to tell the truth.”

The bill will now have to go back to the lower chamber this week to conciliate the changes made before it can be sanctioned by President Juan Manuel Santos.

 

HEADLINES FROM THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE

NORTH AMERICA

MEXICO: Campaign season officially closed yesterday with massive rallies organized by the presidential candidates. Also yesterday, the NGO Citizen Action Against Poverty released the results of a poll saying about 30 million Mexicans received offers in exchange for their votes during the campaign season. And on Tuesday, Mexico City police seized 20 million pesos in cash, about $1 million, from two men who were allegedly delivering the money to the headquarters of the ruling PRI party. The PRI issued a statement denying any connection to the men or the money.

 

CARIBBEAN

PUERTO RICO: The Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, a non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives, introduced a bill yesterday to make the U.S. territory a state by 2021. Jenniffer González Colón, the Resident Commissioner, said that 14 Democrats and 20 Republicans currently sponsor the bill. The bill would create a bipartisan task force to identify the laws that would need to be amended or repealed so Puerto Rico could become a state but its chances for passing are not clear.

BARBADOS: The Caribbean Court of Justice ruled yesterday that Barbados’ mandatory death penalty for murder is unconstitutional. The regional court of the Caribbean Community said the obligatory punishment deprived judges of the function of discretion for tailoring the punishment to fit the crime.

CENTRAL AMERICA

BELIZE: World heritage body Unesco removed the Belize Barrier Reef from its list of endangered World Heritage Sites on Monday. Unesco had added the reef to its list of endangered sites in 2009 when the Belize government announced plans to allow oil exploration in nearby waters, but lawmakers passed a moratorium on oil exploration in all Belizean waters in December 2017 and now Unesco praised Belize’s “visionary plan to manage the coastline.”

EL SALVADOR: A court in San Salvador ordered yesterday an international order for the capture of former president Mauricio Funes, who is accused of corruption and money laundering involving $351 million. Funes was president of El Salvador between 2009 and 2014 for the FMLN leftist party and has been exiled in Nicaragua since 2016.

 

 

ANDES

VENEZUELA-UNITED STATES: The U.S. Supreme Court upheld on Tuesday a travel ban that affects seven countries including Venezuela. The restrictions will only apply to a narrow category of Venezuelan government officials, and their relatives, deemed responsible for not cooperating in vetting possible security threats. But the travel ban also calls for more scrutiny of all Venezuelans applying for U.S. visas.

VENEZUELA: Arrest warrants were issued yesterday for 11 officials of the PDVSA state oil company accused of corruption that cost the firm $14 million, said the Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek Saab.

SOUTHERN CONE

BRAZIL-COLOMBIA: A study released yesterday by the University of Maryland shows tropical forests around the world lost 15.8 million hectares (39 million acres) of tree cover in 2017, making it the second-worst year on record after 2016. Nearly 30 percent of the total losses of rainforest were in Brazil, where most of the Amazon rainforest is located, and Colombia experienced 46 percent more tree cover loss than in the previous year.

BRAZIL: The Supreme Court allowed José Dirceu, the chief of staff of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, to be released from jail while he waits for the results of his appeals to a corruption sentence of 31 years in prison. This gives hope to Lula of receiving the a similr benefit. Meanwhile, supporters of Lula who have been camping in the city of Curitiba where he is imprisoned since April, were attacked on Tuesday by a driver who shot at them and then tried to run several people over with his car.

 

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