Government and FARC representatives agree to a deal in Havana to facilitate “closure” and grant justice to the approximately six million victims of the war; while holding the rebels accountable for their crimes.
Written by Harriet Alexander
President Juan Manuel Santos said that working out how to treat the victims and deal with human rights violations was the toughest part of the 18-month process.
“The justice agreement was the most complex, the most difficult”. “It’s a very important step to be able to end the conflict soon.”
Mr Santos has staked his reputation on securing a deal – despite coming up against strong hostility to a deal from his own country.
Many are concerned that the government is making too many concessions to an organisation behind violence which has killed 220,000 people, and left Colombia with the largest population of internally displaced citizens in the world.
Tuesday’s agreement will see the creation of a truth commission to clarify what happened in the war and promises to search for thousands of missing people, identify their remains and return them. It also attempts to ensure those affected will not be victimised again.
While attempting to offer as much amnesty as possible, the courts would reduce sentences for those who admit guilt. Those responsible for war crimes or crimes against humanity would be excluded from any amnesty.
Former rebels and soldiers who confess to crimes committed during the conflict will receive five to eight-year sentences of supervised “restrictions of liberty”, which would involve surveillance and monitoring but not jail.
The only outstanding issue now is final demobilisation, which will see FARC lay down their weapons and sign the concluding deal.
In September Mr Santos announced a March 23 deadline for signing the final agreement.
It will then be put to a referendum in Colombia, which is likely to be exceedingly contentious. Many in the country feel that it is wrong on principal to make concessions to a group which has caused so much damage over so many years, so could vote against the plan. But the government will spend heavily on campaigning for a “yes” vote.