Magazine article Washington Report on the Hemisphere

Colombia

Magazine article Washington Report on the Hemisphere

Colombia

Article excerpt

A recent announcement made by Colombian peace process officials of Juan Manuel Santos' government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) revealed that the parties had agreed to implement a truth commission to investigate atrocities committed in the conflict since 1958. The establishment of a truth commission addresses issues of victims' rights to truth and justice in the 50-year conflict, a controversial but critical point on the peace agenda. The decision comes in the wake of renewed violence between the FARC and government forces. Following the murder of 11 government troops by fringe FARC militants, President Santos sanctioned the bombing of FARC camps, resulting in 26 deaths. Félix Antonio Muñoz Lascarro (Pastor Alape), a key FARC negotiator in Havana, stated that these government attacks have rendered the FARC's unilateral cease-fire "impossible to maintain." Just in the past week, the government killing of Marquitos, a leading commander of the National Liberation Army (ELN), as well as FARC attacks on oil pipelines, have further escalated tensions between the two parties struggling to find an increasingly elusive peace.

An official joint statement between government and FARC negotiators explains that the truth commission will incorporate victims and criminals alike into the talks, a key component of the peace agenda. Particular to this form of transitional justice is the absence of a judicial process for those bringing forth admissions of crimes. A government statement confirms that criminal investigations cannot use any testimony gathered through the commission, creating a widespread worry by many Colombians of impunity for the most egregious of crimes committed in the conflict. …

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