HomeNewsBriefColombia Legal Reform to Aid Mass Surrender of Criminal Groups
BRIEF

Colombia Legal Reform to Aid Mass Surrender of Criminal Groups

COLOMBIA / 13 OCT 2014 BY KYRA GURNEY EN

Colombia is developing a legal framework to facilitate the surrender and collective prosecution of criminal groups, seeking to avoid repeating the mistakes made when the ERPAC drug gang surrendered three years ago.

In an interview with El Espectador, Colombia's Deputy Attorney General Jorge Fernando Perdomo discussed a proposal to create legal tools that allow the state to deal with criminal groups, including new-generation paramilitary groups such as ERPAC, which are collectively known as the BACRIM.

Under the proposed reform, if the Attorney General's Office accepted a criminal group's request to turn themselves in, the office would appoint a delegation to negotiate the terms of the deal. Once the organization surrendered, its members could be tried as a group, rather than on an individual basis.

Perdomo stated that the proposal was also designed to handle the possibility that members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) may form criminal groups if the guerrilla army demobilizes in a future peace deal with the government -- the two sides are currently holding peace talks in Cuba. The official said the government estimates that 10 to 20 percent of FARC guerrillas may continue to engage in criminal activity after a peace agreement

InSight Crime Analysis

According to Perdomo, the new proposal is a response to the problems that occurred when members of the Popular Revolutionary Anti-Terrorist Army of Colombia (ERPAC) surrendered to the government in 2011. Although 270 ERPAC fighters attempted to turn themselves in, few remain in prison because the Attorney General's Office did not have the necessary tools to collectively prosecute them, he explained. Most ERPAC members were freed immediately because there was no arrest warrant or case against them, and under current law a confession is not enough to justify prosecution.  

Perdomo said that in the case of large BACRIM groups like the Urabeños, the Attorney General's Office is interested in as few as five key operatives turning themselves in, rather than 2,000 members of the organization.

This may be ignoring the lessons of Colombia's history -- in the case of the AUC paramilitaries, who demobilized in the mid-2000s, several top commanders turned themselves in, along with thousands of supposed rank-and-file fighters, but it was the mid-ranking commanders who failed to lay down arms and went on to form the BACRIM.

SEE ALSO: FARC, Peace, and Possible Criminalization

The government is prudent to prepare for the likelihood that some FARC fighters will form criminal organizations if a peace agreement is reached. As InSight Crime has argued, it is highly likely that  elements of the FARC will continue to participate in the drug trade and other illegal activity, as was the case with paramilitary fighters who formed BACRIM after demobilization.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 22 MAR 2011

New evidence has emerged linking Colombian “emerald czar” Victor Carranza to paramilitary groups, but it is unlikely to…

COLOMBIA / 2 FEB 2012

A power void has emerged in Colombia's Eastern Plains, where guerrillas and paramilitaries have long ruled in lawless tracts of…

COLOMBIA / 31 AUG 2015

A recent visit by El Salvador delegates to Colombia points to the limits of transferring Colombia's security strategies abroad.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…