ICC benchmarking consultation on Colombia: what is the way forward for the longest preliminary examination in the history of the Court?

Press release
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The Hague – Bogota – Paris: On 30 September 2021, FIDH and its member organisation in Colombia CAJAR (Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo) submitted a confidential report to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in response to their invitation to stakeholders to contribute to the development of a benchmarking framework for the situation in Colombia. The aim of the report is to provide the OTP with a set of criteria that could ease the analysis conducted at the preliminary examination phase to avoid overextended examinations of country situations.

On 15 June 2021, the OTP issued a call for a benchmarking consultation on the situation in Colombia and published a report in which it explains why the situation in Colombia remains under preliminary examination and what needs to be done before a final determination can be reached. The former Prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, in her statement accompanying the call for consultation, underlined that the report was not the benchmarking framework itself, but an invitation to consult on the development of such a framework, which aims at supporting the OTP to reach a determination on this situation.

Within this context, FIDH and CAJAR prepared a joint report aimed at contributing to the reflection on how the Office should deal with a preliminary examination that faces a long-term, multi-layered domestic accountability process. The FIDH-CAJAR report enumerates a series of benchmarks and indicators, based on the three focus areas suggested by the OTP: (i) the national legislative framework, (ii) domestic proceedings, and (iii) the enforcement of sentences.

"We welcome the initiative of the Office of the Prosecutor to invite stakeholders to participate in the development of a benchmarking framework for Colombia. However, after 17 years of a preliminary examination in the situation of Colombia, this cannot remain merely as a theoretical exercise. We need concrete decisions regarding the situation in Colombia, and we need for those decisions to lead to the opening of an ICC investigation"

Reinaldo Villalba Vargas, FIDH Vice-President and President of CAJAR

The confidential FIDH-CAJAR report introduces 10 benchmarks, with their 30 corresponding indicators, balancing, on the one hand, the interest to create a framework able to be transferred or replicated in other potential long-term preliminary examinations, and on the other hand, the necessity to introduce key defining elements of the situation in Colombia to ensure the practical use and application of the benchmarking framework to the Colombian case.

The aim of the report is to facilitate the analysis of the OTP in the case of Colombia, where long-term national accountability processes have been shaping the way forward of the situation in Colombia at the ICC. The structure of the proposed benchmarks could assist the OTP in conducting a study with specific neutral criteria, and that could avoid overextended preliminary examinations. Ultimately, the proposed benchmarks will show, based on unbiased elements, how the accountability processes in Colombia are not efficient, and why the country and the survivors need urgently the opening of an investigation by the ICC Office of the Prosecutor to fight against the impunity of those most responsible for the large number of violations committed in the country.

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