Major step in Colombian peace process as government and FARC announce historic agreement on victims’ rights
In a ceremony on Tuesday morning (December 15) in Havana, the peace delegations of the FARC and the Colombian government announced an historic agreement on victims’ rights, the fifth point on the agenda of the peace talks that have been going on in the Cuban capital for over three years now.
The government’s chief negotiator Humberto de la Calle announced this morning that “Colombians have very good news to share with the world today. It is not mere rhetoric to say that the agreement on the recognition of victims’ rights paves the way for the end of the armed conflict and a stable peace… that can only be reached if victims are positioned at the centre.”
The historic agreement will see the creation of a Truth, Coexistence and Non-repetition Commission, a special humanitarian unit focused on investigating the disappeared, a comprehensive reparations program and a Special Jurisdiction for Peace that will be in charge of trying those responsible for grave human rights violations and the most serious transgressions of international humanitarian law. Amnesties and pardons will be strictly limited to political crimes such as rebellion.
The thorny issue of victims was negotiated in Havana for 18 months, and peace talks had already neared an important landmark deal on September 23, 2015, when an agreement on transitional justice was announced, hailed at the time as a crucial lead-up to the final peace accord. However, enthusiasm over this agreement quickly diminished after a number of conflicting points had to be renegotiated.
This morning’s ceremony, that was attended by 10 victims, officially sealed the partial agreement, and the agenda in Havana is now due to cement provisions for formally ending the conflict and implementing a bilateral ceasefire as well as a system for disarmament.
At the same time, the still pending issue of how to ratify the forthcoming final peace agreement is generating controversy: Congress recently approved a plebiscite as a means of ratification, while members of the FARC have repeatedly advocated for the convocation of a National Constituent Assembly.
By Veronika Hoelker