The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) rejects former top paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso’s petition to participate in the FARC peace accords’ transitional justice system as a “third party.” As a paramilitary leader, Mancuso—who was extradited to the United States in 2008 and imprisoned for drug trafficking, but who completed his sentence in early 2020—falls within the “Justice and Peace” transitional justice system set up for the paramilitaries’ post-2006 demobilization. The JEP denies that Mancuso, one of the most senior leaders of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), could possibly have qualified as an outside supporter of paramilitaries during the pre-AUC era (late 1980s and early 1990s).
In a special hearing, Maximum FARC party leader Rodrigo Londoño asks the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) to grant protective measures (medidas cautelares) to former guerrillas, nearly 200 of whom have been killed since the peace accord’s signature. Londoño says that 40 percent of those killed have been ex-guerrillas who were released from prison upon demobilizing; 39 more have suffered assassination attempts; and 177 have received threats since 2017. He adds that the Prosecutor-General’s Office (Fiscalía) has only “clarified” (identified the responsible actor) in 11.4 percent of cases.
Citing health and COVID-19 concerns, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) grants conditional release from prison to retired Gen. Jesús Armando Arias Cabrales, who led the Army’s Bogotá-based 13th Brigade during the 1985 M-19 guerrilla takeover of, and subsequent military assault on, the Palace of Justice in the city’s center. Gen. Arias Cabrales had been jailed for the torture and disappearance of civilians during that operation.
The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) announces that it is taking voluntary testimonies from accused perpetrators via internet, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) decides to study whether to order collective protection measures for former FARC members and former security force personnel who are participating in transitional justice. It cites threats against ex-military defendants, and the killings of at least 193 former FARC members through March.
Citing their vulnerability to COVID-19 while imprisoned, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) orders house arrest for 25 people accused of committing war crimes while serving in the security forces. On April 22, the JEP’s Legal Situations Chamber denied release to two former senior officers, Colonels Joaquín Correa López y Jorge Eliécer Plazas Acevedo, both over 60 years old. The JEP mandated that they be granted humanitarian protective measures while detained.
The JEP amnesties Niall Connolly, James Monaghan and Martin McCauley, three alleged members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) who had fled Colombia in 2004 while appealing a sentence for teaching FARC members how to build improvised bombs. The JEP finds that the men had committed an amnistiable political crime.
- The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) accords victim status to the Patriotic Union (UP) political party. The UP was founded during a 1980s peace process with the FARC, as a means to ease the guerrillas’ foreseen entry into civilian life. More than 3,000 of its members were killed in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
- The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) refuses to admit former top paramilitary leader Carlos Mario Jiménez alias “Macaco,” who was extradited to the United States in 2008 and returned to Colombia in 2019. Macaco’s war crimes, the JEP contends, are already covered by the Justice and Peace transitional justice system set up for the AUC paramilitaries’ 2003-06 demobilization. However, the JEP holds out the possibility that Jiménez might participate in order to be held accountable for crimes he committed as a paramilitary supporter, before he joined the AUC.
- The JEP requires former police general Mauricio Santoyo to stand trial for his role in the 2000 disappearance of two members of the Association of Relatives of the Disappeared (ASFADDES) in Medellín. Santoyo stands accused of working with the paramilitaries who disappeared Claudia Patricia Monsalve and Ángel José Quintero when he was commander of the Medellín Police anti-kidnapping unit. He later went on to be the chief of then-president Álvaro Uribe’s security detail before being extradited to the United States to face drug charges. He was returned to Colombia in 2019.
- One of the FARC’s most prominent former hostages, ex-senator Ingrid Betancourt, sends a strongly worded letter to the chief judge of the JEP’s Chamber for Recognition of Truth, Responsibility, and Determination of Acts and Conducts. She is responding to a news report about some of the FARC’s testimony to the JEP, in which the guerrillas attempt to play down the severity of Betancourt’s six years in jungle captivity. “It is not up to the FARC to issue good-behavior certificates for its victims. Nor is it up to us to agree with what they do.” Betancourt objects strongly to the FARC defendants’ insistence on using the word “retention” as a euphemism for kidnapping.
- JEP personnel investigating “false positive” killings have extracted about 54 bodies of possible Army victims from a mass grave in the town cemetery of Dabeiba, Antioquia. In this historically conflictive municipality, the practice of killing civilians and claiming them as combat deaths may have gone on for 25 years. Victims have had little or no recourse until the JEP’s effort began.
- The Special Peace Jurisdiction (JEP) amnesties Marilú Ramírez, a FARC member who infiltrated the Nueva Granada Military University in Bogotá in order to set off a car bomb there in 2006. The attack wounded 33 people; Ramírez was sentenced to over 27 years in prison in 2015. After two years of deliberation, the transitional justice tribunal determines that the school was a legitimate military target, and the attack was therefore amnistiable under the peace accord.
- “Let’s eliminate the JEP, the Democratic Center Party has said so for a long time,” tweets the governing party’s founder, former president and current Senator Álvaro Uribe.
- Gen. Mario Montoya, who headed Colombia’s army between 2006 and 2008, testifies for two days before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP). At least 41 victims are in attendance, others gather outside to protest.
- The JEP is holding hearings for its “macro-case” about so-called “false positive” killings, in which military personnel murdered thousands of civilians and claimed them later as combat kills. Eleven military witnesses have signaled Gen. Montoya as playing a key role in creating the incentives for these killings.
- The law governing the JEP dictates that when a person has been implicated by a report or testimony, the JEP will give that person the opportunity to give his or her version of what happened. At that opportunity, the person may recognize or deny the allegations.
- In 40 minutes of comments, Gen. Montoya denies any responsibility for the “false positives,” and invokes his “right to remain silent,” responding vaguely to magistrates’ questions.
- Gen. Montoya’s silence causes an outcry among victims. They particularly object to Montoya’s response when magistrates ask him how to prevent “false positive” killings in the future. Montoya reportedly replied by citing most soldiers’ low social class origins. “We have to teach them how to use the bathroom, how to use silverware, so it’s not easy.”
- On February 18, active-duty Col. Álvaro Amórtuegi tells Caracol Noticias that in 2001, Montoya had ordered him to kill some people captured by paramilitaries, adding that he would send him some armbands with which to pass them off as guerrillas. When he refused, the colonel alleges that Montoya replied, “You’re a coward, you disgust me and I spit on your boots… If you’re afraid, go kill an idiot or a crazy person, or take them from the morgue.”
- Some victims’ groups call on the JEP to expel Gen. Montoya for his non-cooperation, which would send his case to the regular criminal justice system.
The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) refuses to admit Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, alias “Jorge 40,” the former head of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC)’s northern bloc, currently imprisoned in the United States for narcotrafficking. The JEP notes that Tovar should have submitted to the Justice and Peace process set up for paramilitary leaders after 2006, but that he did not.
- A delegation from the International Criminal Court’s Prosecutor’s Office completes a four-day visit to Colombia. In a statement, the Office “reiterates the importance of the SJP [Special Jurisdiction for Peace, or JEP] and the necessity to maintain its integrity and independence, as well as the need to provide it with the necessary resources and support to carry out its important mandate.”