Hope is generally elusive after a peace agreement that ends a civil war; Colombia is no exception. After Congress ratified a modified version of the peace agreement that lost the 2016 referendum, the FARC guerrillas demobilized and submitted to a newly created transitional justice court, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace; so did the Colombian military who had been tried for gross human rights abuses. The jurisdiction is meant to “keep victims at the centre,” advance the construction of peace, and favour restorative over retributive justice. It is tasked with the investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the 50-year conflict, the identification of those responsible, and the provision of either reduced jail sentences or alternative restorative justice sentences for those sincerely committed to telling the truth and providing reparations. Is it possible to have victim-centred transitional justice, in spite of the sacrifice of justice it entails? Can a criminal trial open the way for the reincorporation of war criminals into society without a jail sentence? What kind of peace is possible in Colombia after the Peace Agreement, and what is the court’s role in contributing to peace? During the talk, we will address these issues through the lens of the jurisdictions’ first macro-case, case 01 against the FARC for kidnapping.
Julieta Lemaitre is a judge at the Justice Chambers of the Colombian Special Jurisdiction for Peace, created in 2018 to implement the transitional justice component of the 2016 Peace Agreements with the FARC guerrilla. She is currently the investigating judge for the peace jurisdiction’s first macro-case: charges against the policy and practice of kidnapping brought against the former guerrilla leaders.
Before her appointment Judge Lemaitre taught at the Law School in Universidad de Los Andes, where she has been a full professor since 2007 and is now Adjunct Professor of Law. She has a law degree from Universidad de Los Andes (1995), a Masters in Gender and Religious Studies from New York University (1998) and a doctoral degree in Law and Social Theory (SJD) from Harvard University (2007). She has been Robina Human Rights visiting scholar at the Yale Law School (2014–2015) and PRIO global fellow (2014–2017.) She has published articles in English in Third World Quarterly, Law and Society Review, Social and Legal Studies, Feminist Legal Studies, Stability, Disasters, I-CON, and the Harvard Human Rights Journal. She has also published in English book chapters in edited volumes. Her books in Spanish are El Derecho como conjuro (2009,) La Paz en Cuestión (2011) and El Estado siempre llega tarde (2019); she also edited La Quintíada (2013) and Derechos Enterrados (2011).