It wasn’t necessarily a rebuke, but it certainly wasn’t an endorsement. On Wednesday, a representative of the International Criminal Court (ICC) offered pointed skepticism of the Colombian peace process between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group.
“All parties of the armed conflict there are alleged to have committed crimes against humanity,” said James Stewart, ICC Deputy Prosecutor, in a meeting of the Organization of American States. “The question will be whether the sentences imposed in the context of the transitional justice process adequately serve appropriate sentencing objectives for the most serious crimes.”
Stewart also discussed several other ICC cases around the world before wrapping up by returning to the themes he touched on in discussing Colombia’s peace process.
“All of this matters if we are to build a more just and peaceful world.”
“Justice matters. The plight of victims and communities affected by mass atrocity crimes matters. Holding the perpetrators of such crimes accountable before a court of law matters.” he said. “All of this matters if we are to build a more just and peaceful world.”
Colombia’s representative at the OAS addressed the ICC uncertainty by asserting that justice must also take into consideration the need for peace.
“The balance between justice and peace must be one of the issues which receive the greatest attention,” said Ambassador to the OAS Andrés González. “Precisely this balance is one of the most important attributes of a judge.”
“The government of President Juan Manuel Santos has persisted in searching for peace with the FARC with the purpose of honoring the rights of past victims and preventing future victims.”
In Colombia, Attorney General Alejandro Ordóñez took the ICC message as a confirmation of his views on the peace process in a press conference Thursday.
“We want a peace that is sustainable over time. We want to armor the peace process. You can’t do that with impunity,” said Ordóñez.
“The declarations demonstrate that those of us who criticize the justice accords achieved in Havana are not enemies of peace,” said Ordóñez. “We are friends of justice.”
Amnesty International also shared a pessimistic perspective on the current deal’s protections for victims in a statement to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on Thursday.
“Despite the progress towards peace, many seemingly intractable conflict-related human rights and humanitarian challenges persist and could very likely become more acute in a post-conflict environment,” reads the statement.
“For this reason, the groundswell of well-founded optimism should be tempered with caution.”