More than 15,000 crimes allegedly committed by Colombia’s Marxist-inspired FARC rebels will go unanswered because the supposed perpetrators died in the 52-year armed conflict, the Prosecutor General’s Office said Tuesday.
Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez in a press conference said that 15,479 crimes that victimized 17,418 Colombians will not see trial as a result of the deaths of 19,708 guerrillas.
The approximately 17,700 rebels who are currently undergoing a demobilization process will face 27,566 criminal charges through a transitional justice system, which Congress is expected to approve under the terms of a peace deal with Colombia’s government.
One of the principal tenets of the peace accord is to bring about truth and justice for the victims and families of the South American country’s 52-year armed conflict. However, according to Martinez, more than 17 thousand or 0.2% of Colombia’s 8 million war victims will fail to receive long overdue justice.
Of the alleged guerrilla crimes that will remain unsolved there were 3,822 in the Antioquia province, 2,941 in Meta, 1,190 in Caqueta, 811 in Valle del Cauca, 684 in the capital Bogota, 600 in Cauca, 562 in Tolima, 520 in Choco, 513 in Putumayo, 265 in Guaviare and 3,571 in the remaining two thirds of the country, reported Blu Radio, which was able to obtain a copy of the report.
Of the 27,566 that will stand trial, the majority of FARC members must respond to charges of rebellion, followed by forced displacement and other war-related crime charges for, among others, homicide, forced disappearance, kidnapping, threats, illicit recruitment and extortion.
At least 444 members of the FARC convicted of pardonable crimes as rebellion and drug trafficking, will be released from prison after Congress approved an amnesty law late last year.
The amnesty law provides the rebels the judicial guarantees that those who are not accused of “grave” war crimes, are pardoned and reintegrated into society.
Apart from the FARC members, some 24,400 (former) state officials and 12,500 civilians who are either convicted or formally charged with war crimes will appear before this system.
The prosecution report indicated that the guerrillas are responsible for approximately 0.4% of the victims generated in Colombia’s multi-party conflict that also involved other guerrilla groups, anti-guerrilla paramilitary forces and the state.
Following more than half a decade of drug-fueled political violence, Colombian society is bitterly divided on the question of justice as convicted war criminals will be able to evade prison for an alternative “restriction of liberty,” effectively amounting to community service for victimized communities.
The FARC’s 180-day DDR process is part of a major, 10-year national peace process that seeks to end more than 52 years of violence that has left more than 8 million victims.
While the guerrilla group transforms to become a Marxist political party, the government is set to embark on a series of political and rural reforms aimed at removing what are considered the main causes of the conflict, rural inequality and political exclusion.
Meanwhile, a transitional justice system for both guerrillas and members of the military is put in place to seek truth and justice over the mass victimization of Colombians.
Apart from the 16,600 FARC members, some 24,400 (former) state officials and 12,500 civilians who are either convicted or formally charged with war crimes will appear before this system.
But Colombian society is strongly divided and agitated over the process that seeks to end a war the majority of Colombians were born in and, rather than in victory or defeat, ended in compromises that for many are hard to swallow.