Colombian Congress passes opposition statute

News from Colombia | on: Wednesday, 12 April 2017

On 5 April the Colombian Congress passed another major piece of legislation for the implementation of the peace agreements. The Opposition Statute, which provides political, economic and security guarantees for the exercise of political opposition in the country, was passed by 52 votes to 2 in the Senate. It was approved by 115 in the House of Representatives two days prior.

Whilst the right to political opposition is a basic element of any democracy, Colombia has waited for over 26 years for this law to become a reality. Although the 1991 Constitution guarantees the right to political opposition, there has never been a law which puts this right into practice. Previous legislative efforts have failed; the peace process with the FARC has finally allowed for these guarantees to become law. This is of great historic importance in a country in which opposition politicians and activists are routinely threatened and killed.

The guarantees include:

  • the right to respond to public Presidential discourses on TV and radio.
  • the right to 30 minutes primetime TV and radio coverage a month.
  • 5% extra public funds.
  • the losing presidential candidate will be given a seat in the Senate.
  • representative of the opposition will be a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.
  • the right to propose debates and order of business in Congress five times in each legislative period.

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