First FARC Guerrilla Pardoned after Amnesty Bill was Fast-Tracked – Violence Continues
nsnbc : The fist batch of FARC members was released after Colombia’s Constitutional Court and Congress fast-tracked a crucial amnesty law. However, violence in Colombia continues as hundreds of FARC members reject the peace and murders of community leaders and rights activists continues unabated.
Colombia’s Congress approved the amnesty law only hours after it had been approved by the Constitutional Court. The amnesty law is part of the transitional justice system established under the peace agreement between the State and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP). The vetting of FARC guerrilla will take place in the UN-controlled ZVTN camps.
On Wednesday the first 100 FARC guerrilla were pardoned and the number is expected to rise to about 300 by early 2017. Justice Minister Jorge Londoño spoke to the press on Wednesday, saying: “The idea is to resolve around 300 [cases] by this year and the beginning of next. Altogether there are about 4,500 FARC guerrilla members in jail”. These guerrilla will be released from jail to take part in the transitional justice system.
It is expected that most guerrilla, with the exception of those found guilty of serious war crimes will be granted amnesty. That is, FARC members who are found guilty of political offenses such as “rebellion” will be granted amnesty or pardoned while those suspected of serious war crimes will await their fate via a transitional justice tribunal, along with members of the military and civilians also accused of violations of humanitarian law.
Guerrilla who refuse to participate in the peace process will be considered as deserters by the FARC-EP. The problem primarily affects members of the FARC’s 1st Front. Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas reiterated his warning to FARC deserters that Colombia’s armed forces will be on their tail. “Those who declare themselves in dissent from the FARC or simply become bandits because of the ambition of money, gold and dollars are high-value targets, we will persecute them,” said Villegas at a press conference.
The demobilization of the FARC has, as forecast by many rights organizations, increased the risk for community and grassroots leaders. Only days ago Colombia’s largest peasant organizations, Cumbre Agraria, reported that 94 of its regional leaders have been assassinated so far this year; that is a 49% increase compared to the same period last year.
The UN, earlier this month stressed that the UN is seriously concerned about the increase in killings of rights and community leaders. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reported 57 assassinations of social leaders and 35 additional attempted assassinations in the first 11 months of 2016. Marcha Patriotica, a grouping of leftist social organizations, reported late last month that 70 of its members have been murdered this year, while another have 232 received death threats.
A/N & CH/L – nsnbc 16.12.2016