Colombia: Peace agreement must open the door to justice
The ratification of the peace agreement marks the beginning of a new and hopeful chapter in Colombia’s history, but the real hard work starts now, Amnesty International said today.
Last night, Congress ratified a revised version of the peace agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) after the original deal was rejected by a referendum on 2 October.
The ratification paves the way for the FARC to begin to demobilize and disarm in a process to be implemented over six months.
The revised agreement offers more clarity on a number of issues, such as on how the sanctions imposed on those responsible for crimes under international law will work. It also forces the FARC to hand over their assets, which could boost the right of victims to reparation. But the agreement remains flawed in terms of guarantees on victims’ rights.
“The official end to a bloody armed conflict that has lasted for more than 50 years and has left some eight million victims in its wake is an achievement that cannot and should not be underestimated."
Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International
“The official end to a bloody armed conflict that has lasted for more than 50 years and has left some eight million victims in its wake is an achievement that cannot and should not be underestimated,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.
“However, much of the horror Colombians have been forced to endure for decades has often not been directly linked to direct combat between the security forces and the FARC. Those working away from the spotlight, defending rights or protecting natural resources and territories from powerful economic interests continue to face harassment and deadly attacks. So the peace agreement in itself may do little to keep these activists safe. What they need is effective action to ensure those behind such attacks face proper justice.”
Since 1985, nearly seven million people have been forced to flee their homes, more than 267,000 were killed, some 46,000 people were victims of enforced disappearances, and some 30,000 were taken hostage. Thousands more were the victims of torture, sexual violence, and landmines, while some 8,000 children were forcibly recruited by guerrilla and paramilitary groups. Very few of those responsible have ever been brought to justice.
“The terrible legacy of these violations and the entrenched impunity for most of them means that, despite the peace agreement, many seemingly intractable conflict-related human rights and humanitarian challenges persist, and there is a real risk that these challenges will continue in a post-conflict environment,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas.