Practice Relating to Rule 159. Amnesty
Section A. Amnesty for participation in non-international armed conflicts
Colombia’s Amnesty Decree (1991) states:
The National Government can grant, in every particular case, the benefits of a pardon or an amnesty [to Colombian nationals] for offences or acts which constitute crimes of rebellion, sedition, putsch, conspiracy and related acts, committed before the promulgation of the [Constitution], when, in its opinion, the guerrilla group of which the person asking for [the pardon or amnesty] is a member has demonstrated its intention to reintegrate into civil life.
The benefits provided for in this decree can neither be granted with respect to atrocities nor with respect to murder committed outside a situation of combat or in taking advantage of the defenselessness of the victim.
In 1995, Colombia’s Constitutional Court examined the constitutionality of the 1977 Additional Protocol II. As part of its consideration of Article 6(5) of the Protocol, the Court stated:
In internal armed conflicts … those who have taken up arms do not in principle enjoy prisoner-of-war status and are consequently subject to penal sanctions imposed by the State, since they are not legally entitled to fight or to take up arms. In so doing they are guilty of an offence, such as rebellion or sedition, which is punishable under domestic legislation … It is easy to understand the purpose of a provision designed to ensure that the authorities in power will grant the broadest possible amnesty for reasons related to the conflict, once hostilities are over, as this can pave the way towards national reconciliation.