Colombian court places President Ivan Duque under house arrest after he fails to protect national park


Citing the failure of the Andean country’s leader to comply with a previous ruling that demanded he protect a national park, a court in Colombia has ordered President Ivan Duque to be fined and placed under house arrest for five days.

After a constitutionally limited single, four-year term Duque is leaving office with record disapproval numbers following a year marked by social unrest and a violent police crackdown that drew international condemnation.

According to the country’s constitution, Colombia’s president can only be accused and investigated by a special legislative commission, political experts believe there is no chance that the order by the court will be carried out.

In 2020, Colombia’s Supreme Court had asked Duque to enact measures to protect the Los Nevados national park, including the creation of a special unit of police or military members to help carry out conservation work at the park.

Explaining the ruling, the superior court of Ibague said in a statement that it has also imposed a fine on the president of roughly $4,000.

Also see | Who is Gustavo Petro, the ex-guerilla who’s top contender for Colombia president

Insisting his government has protected Colombia’s natural parks and complied with the court order to conserve the Los Nevados national park, Duque said “We’ve seen an inexplicable initial ruling.”  

Calling the court decision unconstitutional and insisting that the Supreme Court’s order had already been carried out, Duque said evidence demonstarting his compliance with the Supreme Court’s order was sent to the court in Ibague but was ignored.

Duque’s successor faces a multitude of challenges, not least of which is a new cycle of murders and kidnappings as violence has surged despite a 2016 peace deal that disarmed the Forces of Colombia—People’s Army (FARC) and officially ended the civil war.

(With inputs from agencies)

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