Court orders Colombia’s Congress to ratify temporary seats for victims of civil war but …

nsnbc : A court in the Colombian capital Bogota, on Monday, ordered Colombia’s Congress to ratify 16 temporary seats in the House of Representatives for regions that have been severely affected by armed conflict and state neglect. The direct political participation of representatives of regions that have fallen victims to the more than 50-year-long civil war has been stipulated in the peace accord between the State and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) signed in December 2016.

Poverty stricken Colombian area. Photo courtesy Luis Perez.

Poverty stricken Colombian area. Photo courtesy Luis Perez.

The peace accord stipulates that victims shall be allowed to elect regional representatives in the 2018 and 2022 elections. However, Senate President and Conservative Party member Efrain Cepeda threw a spanner into the implementation when he blocked the bill after 50 of 102 senators voted in favor. The administration of President Juan Manuel Santos challenged Cepeda’s decision in court. Colombia’s State Council agreed that three senators are in jail and barred from voting and that the bill therefore received a 50 of 99 majority vote.

Having received a request from “a human rights defender” the 16th Bogota Administrative Tribunal on Monday ordered Cepeda to immediately ratify the bill that many within his Conservative Party had opposed. Yet another lawsuit that seeks to impeach Senate President Cepeda’s decision, filed by Interior Minister Guillermo Rivera, is currently being studied by the Cundinamarca Administrative Tribunal.

Cepeda told the weekly Semana that he was studying the most recent court order. However, even if Cepeda submits to the ruling, the bill can still be thrown out. If passed by the Senate and signed by the president, Colombia’s Constitutional Court has a final say on the bill before it becomes law. The political participation of victims is one of a dozen bills that stem from a peace agreement with the FARC, but have failed to make it through Congress. Unless fast-tracked, many a bill will have to wait until August 2018 which many find disturbing, considering that Colombia will take to the polls in March.

A/N – nsnbc 12.12.2017

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