On 30 November 2023, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court issued its Final Report on the Situation in Colombia, following the determination of Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC in October 2021 to conclude the preliminary examination with a decision not to proceed with an investigation on the basis of the Office’s admissibility assessment.
The Report provides additional information underlying the reasons for this determination based on the Office’s admissibility assessment. It also describes the nature and scope of the Office’s engagement in the Situation in Colombia during the course of its 17 year-long preliminary examination. Finally, the Report addresses the trajectory of the Office’s current activities as it both cooperates with and learns from Colombia’s experience as part of the common effort – enjoined on both States Parties and the ICC – to ensure that the goals of the Rome Statute are given effect.
“This Report is a testimony of the joint efforts undertaken by my Office and the Colombian authorities to ensure crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC do not go unpunished in Colombia,” Prosecutor Khan stated at the occasion of the Report’s publication. “The significant progress achieved by domestic prosecutorial and judicial entities is an example of complementarity in action, for which Colombia needs to be commended.”
As detailed in the Report, the Office conducted numerous missions throughout the preliminary examination, held meetings, exchanges and roundtable discussions with the Colombian authorities, members of the judiciary, as well as with representatives of civil society, international organisations and academia. These interactions and relevant analysis enabled the Office to identify alleged crimes committed, examine information on relevant domestic proceedings, distinguish a number of gaps or shortfalls which indicated insufficient or incomplete prosecutorial activity and to help the domestic judicial authorities to prioritise their work.
Domestic accountability efforts gained traction following the signature of the 2016 Final Peace Agreement and the establishment of the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition. This, alongside the commendable accountability work of the ordinary criminal jurisdiction, the Justice and Peace Law Tribunals, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and civil society, allowed the Colombian authorities to adjudicate large-scale criminal cases in relation to conduct identified by the Office.
Upon assuming office in June 2021, Prosecutor Khan initiated a comprehensive survey of the status of domestic proceedings as well as the information received from multiple stakeholders, eventually leading to his determination that the national authorities were neither inactive, unwilling nor unable to genuinely investigate and prosecute Rome Statute crimes, allowing for conclusion of the preliminary examination.
The issuance of this final Report does not conclude the Office’s engagement with Colombia. The Office remains committed to support Colombia’s accountability mechanisms under the framework of the Cooperation Agreement between the Government of Colombia and the Office, signed on 28 October 2021 in Bogota. The agreement reinforced and defined the mutual roles of both the Office and national authorities in ensuring that the significant accountability efforts achieved by the different Colombia jurisdictions, and in particular by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, remain adequately supported. Through its continued engagement, the Office also seeks to learn from and facilitate opportunities for sharing Colombia’s experiences in particular those achieved by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, in the field of transitional justice, as potential best practices in the global collective work towards justice, in Colombia and beyond.