After the triumph of the elected President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, several members of his neighboring team reported that the "amnesty" to pacify the country, announced in the campaign, will actually consist of a much wider plan of actions that they "process of" called transitional justice "… but what is that?
Understand what politicians refer to when they talk about transitional justice & # 39 ;, Political animal he approached a person who is a specialist in the subject, not only because in his country of origin he is a fundamental part of a pacification process similar to the proposal of the future Mexican authorities, but also because This country, Colombia, shares some characteristics with Mexico regarding internal violence.
Specialist is Xiomara Balanta Moreno, vice president of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (the body set up by the Colombian judiciary to assess the crimes committed in the context of the war with the FARC, after the signing of the peace with that guerrilla group). Within this legal structure, Xiomara Balanta is also chairman of the Chamber of Amnesty or Pardon, that is to say, of the court that pardons the aforementioned crimes, in case the benefit expires.
To the concept of transitional justice & # 39; To understand, Minister Balanta explains, one must first understand what type of transition the term refers to: & # 39; and what is normally understood by the transition in this matter, are the steps taken from the war to peace ", that that is to say, it is a process that presupposes that the hostilities are ended, in the context of an internal armed conflict.
The Minister emphasizes, however, that the case of Colombia is an example of "sui generis", even though in 2016 a peace agreement was signed with the oldest guerrilla of the country, the war conflicts with "different groups". illegally armed, the FARC were just one of them. This is trying to bring peace in the middle of the war, which is not easy. We try to apply a transitional justice, without transition ".
What can you be forgiven?
In Mexico, none of the actions announced so far by the following federal authorities implies a peace agreement with organized crime groups that maintain armed confrontation with the security forces, and that is why the Colombian attempt to peace in the middle of the war & # 39; can be considered as a characteristic that corresponds to the & # 39; transitional justice & # 39; in Mexico.
Judge Balanta, however, warned against the internal conflict in Colombia "It is different from what you now live in Mexico."
The first clear difference from the Mexican conflict is that the FARC's will existed in Colombia to lay down their arms, something that has not been raised in Mexico by authorities or organized crime groups.
"In order to be able to enter into a dialogue and achieve a stable and lasting peace," says Minister Bolanta, "it is necessary to offer benefits to those who voluntarily submit, ie to those who voluntarily abandon their weapons, the transition from the war against peace begins, and in Colombia that process of delivery of arms was directly verified by the United Nations Organization. "
As stated in Law 1820, issued in Colombia to regulate the granting of amnesty, the pardon is also not general, but both parties in the conflict accepted that it only applied to certain crimes they called "politicians" and exceptional for "ordinary crimes". ", If it has been shown that they have been committed in the context of the armed conflict.
In Colombia, for example, pardon is granted to FARC guerrilla fighters who have participated in acts such as rebellion, plane theft, espionage, activities to finance the uprising (including drug trafficking) or participation in battles.
Even amnesty is granted to those who have killed other people, whether or not they have fallen directly or indirectly in the framework of the armed conflict with the FARC, and whether those deaths were not in violation of international humanitarian law (as might be the case in the execution of the crimes). prisoners or death for denying humanitarian aid).
At the same time, the FARC guerrillas recognized that their members had criminal responsibility, without any possibility of forgiveness, if they committed "crimes against humanity, genocide, serious war crimes, hostage-taking or other deprivation". serious freedom, torture, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearance, violent sexual access and other forms of sexual violence, child abduction, forced displacement, in addition to the recruitment of minors. "
All these crimes stemmed from the amnesty in Colombia, explained the manager Bolanta, because it forbids international law to forgive for these serious events, "there are amnesty crime and others who are not, and that is determined by international rules, that Colombia is respectful. "
Although the elected authorities in Mexico have not specified the crimes they want to grant an amnesty as soon as they take office, the victims with whom they approached are precisely those who, in the context of the war on drug trafficking, have suffered from those crimes that, according to international law, can not be forgiven.
Forgive organized crime?
Unlike Colombia, the conflict that Mexico is experiencing is not between official troops and armed groups with political ends, but the confrontation with openly organized groups of organized crime.
However, Judge Xiomara Bolanta admits: "It is clear that Colombia has suffered the scourge of drug trafficking for years, and although the armed conflict was not foreign to that situation, drug trafficking and armed conflict are two different facts."
In fact, the magistrate emphasizes, "the peace agreement signed in Colombia is due to an internal armed conflict, in accordance with international standards for the protection of human rights, but drug trafficking is not a fact that so applies the Drug trafficking is a transnational crime that has nothing to do with the declaration of an internal armed conflict or the application of norms in the light of international humanitarian law. "
In other words, in general, the international framework that establishes in which type of armed conflict applicable amnesties, does not provide for its application in confrontations with groups of drug traffickers.
Minister Bolanta, however, points out in Colombia that amnesty is used for activities such as drug trafficking, when it is shown that they have been developed by guarrillas of the FARC not to gain personal gain, but to finance their guerrilla activities.
"The Chamber of Amnesty and Pardon has a very strong task," said the Colombian minister. "It has to understand when drug trafficking can have a relationship with the armed conflict, when that drug trade has a direct or indirect relationship with facts that they are related to the armed conflict (…) If the evidence proves to me that the drug trafficking that it FARC member was doing in his own favor and not to finance the FARC, why would he then receive? Amnesty? "
Although originally agreed in the agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC that members of the public forces and citizens who participated in the armed conflict and who had committed crimes would also be subjected to the court, a later agreement of the Congress of that country. that the appearance will be mandatory for guerrilla fighters and for officials, police, military personnel and civilians who are involved.
"At the moment," says the Colombian minister, "there is a legal point in my country because the new procedural law gave the state some time to create a new institution responsible for its assessment. as clear as it should be. & # 39;
However, he assures: "I can tell you that today, in Colombia, a public of voluntary submissiveness of members of the security forces is in progress, possibly having committed what we call false positives or extrajudicial killings. the fact that the appearance was voluntary, it has been well received by the members of the public power that are being investigated, prosecuted, for this type of crime. "
– Does not it trust too much on goodwill? – He asks.
Although the agreement with the Colombian minister is not to ask her to comment on Mexico, but only on the peace process in her country, the interview ends with a consultation: what topics would she propose to take into account Mexicans, in the light of a possible process of "transitional justice?"
"I would like to tell them," he says, "that Mexico needs to know where its disappeared." That is the opinion of a Colombian, and for that there must be a research unit, if they already have it, they have to reinforce it or a new one. and it must have all the institutional support and support of the civilian population. "
This search unit, and every institution deemed necessary to implement a transitional justice process, emphasizes, "should consist of people who are chosen independently and independently, by processes in which the state has no management capacity, and so on. for the development of their activities ".
In Colombia, for example, the Ministers of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace were elected by judges from other countries.
"I am one of the first black judges in Colombia," she says, "and I am a woman, and I am young and my choice would not have been successful if a change had not been decided to guarantee independence. To ensure the issue of gender and plurality, your courts must show diversity in a diverse country, "he concludes.