• Colombia is striving to integrate some 30,000 demobilized paramilitary fighters into local communities by way of a controversial disarmament, demobilization and reintegration(DDR) process.
• Colombia’s formal justice system faces a stark incapacity to support the DDR process and ensure justice. Prospects for promoting reconciliation are unclear and this seems tobe one of the reasons why some communities refuse to accept these ex-combatants. The lack of clarity in the reintegration process has also led to some of the demobilized to join the paramilitarygroups that emerged after the demobilization. For the same reason, some analysts believe that the process is contributing to impunity.
• The actual legal status of some 19,000 ex-combatantshas not been defined; within this group are individuals who committed lesser crimes. These individuals and these crimes have strong potential for being effectively processed using alternativejustice.
• However, in Colombia today, there is almost no discussion of the prospects for leveraging alternative justice approaches and mechanisms to ease the pressure on Colombia’s formalsystem and speed the process of community reconciliation and reintegration.
• Colombia has a rich and diverse array of alternative justice operators already in place. Some have beenintervening “de facto” to resolve or diffuse community-level violence involving ex-combatants (many of whom are still armed).
• Effort is needed to raise awareness of the potential for alternativejustice in Colombia, and to support the diverse stakeholders who have signalled an interest in working to operationalize alternative justice in support of sustainable DDR in Colombia today. Furthernormative and empiric research and the strengthening of researchers and advocates working in alternative justice would contribute to the achievement of this goal.
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