According to the newspaper, the 5,000 are part of the 31,000 fighters who demobilized between 2003 and 2006, but have fell of the radar, because they stopped reporting to the country’s reintegration agency.
Following a new law, adopted in December after the Constitutional Court ruled that the massive exclusion of prosecution of paramilitaries was against the constitution, those who demobilized are obliged to report their whereabouts to authorities.
Those who do not comply to the new regulations will be kicked out of the Justice and Peace program that allows former paramilitaries to receive economic support and education.
El Tiempo reported that authorities are concerned many of these former members of the AUC have joined neo-paramilitary gangs like the “Urabeños,” “Aguilas Negras” or “Paisas” or run the risk of joining these gangs.
1,500 of the “disappeared” paramilitaries are from Antioquia, traditionally a hotbed for extreme right-wing fighters, but also the capital Bogota and the departments of Cordoba, Cesar and Meta have high number of demobilized paramilitaries who are unaccounted for.
“It is probably that many have decided that it is better — to avoid stigmatization — not to have anything to do with the demobilization. But to have them plainly registered is key to protect them and to guarantee they are taking part in the demobilization,” an anonymous government official told the El Tiempo.
Former members of the AUC who do not register with reintegration authorities will face prosecution for conpiracy for having been a member of a terorrist organization and will not be able to benefit from the Justice and Peace law that disallows penalties higher than eigth years.