Between 5th and 7th February 2018, the city of Bogotá has been the privileged host of the workshop “Universal Jurisdiction, transnational litigation networks and the Colombian Special Jurisdiction for Peace”, which has brought together more than 30 international experts of global reputation in the fields of International Criminal Law, human rights protection and International Humanitarian Law.
Over two days, this diverse group of participants -comprised of lawyers, judges, academics and human rights defenders from four different continents- had the opportunity to discuss the status of the implementation of the Colombian Peace Accord, as well as share ideas and initiatives to assist victims in the protection of their rights to truth and justice, and support the process of transitional justice in the country.
The meeting culminated with the public event “Universal Jurisdiction and Special Jurisdiction for Peace” in the University Externado of Colombia.
After opening remarks from the rector of the University and ex President of the Colombian Constitutional Court, Juan Carlos Henao Pérez, in which he highlighted the great collaborative effort and trust required to design the institutional system of transitional justice in Colombia, Almudena Bernabéu, co-principal of The Guernica Group and coordinator of our projects in the country, moderated the first panel “Experiences from other countries in coming to terms with past atrocities“.
The panel comprised Andreas Schüller (ECCHR), who stressed the need of international justice initiatives to support national transitional processes; Jacqueline Moudeina (ATPDH), who explained the lessons learnt from the trial of the Chadian ex President, Hissène Habré, in Senegal; and Baltasar Garzón (FIBGAR), who following his significant experience in judicial processes involving perpetrators of international crimes based on the principle of universal jurisdiction, emphasized the need to continue supporting such principles as a closure mechanism and the last legal tool for victims to achieve justice globally: “Victims are universal, there should be no borders. Sovereignty cannot generate impunity”.
The event was followed by a second panel “International and Colombian views on the Special Jurisdiction for Peace“, with Patricia Linares Prieto, President of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace; José Ricardo de Prada Solaesa, amicus curiae to the Tribunal of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace; and Daniel Rafecas, an Argentine Federal Judge who has led dozens of judicial processes against perpetrators of international crimes in his country. The panel was moderated by Luis Guillermo Pérez (CCAJAR).
The experts drew attention to the key role of national and international civil societies in this kind of processes that seek to generate profound transformations, and emphasized the need to increase victims’ participation, secure the end of impunity in Colombia, respect the integrity of the transitional system, and conceive adequate criteria to select and prioritize cases to be brought before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace.
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