Ex-paramilitary soldiers face jail time if they do not present themselves to the Colombian government for registration, reported El Tiempo Thursday.
The High Council for Reintegration, charged with registering demobilized members of the paramilitary umbrella organization AUC, is seeking 6,000 former fighters to sign the Contribution Agreement to Historical Truth.
“The reintegration process was voluntary until [the Victims Law] came out. The process just became mandatory,” said a senior advisor for the High Council for Reintegration.
President Juan Manuel Santos signed the Victims Law into effect on June 11. The historic legislation lays out a plan to redress five decades of violent internal conflict by dealing with its social costs, but the task is immense; implementation is expected to take at least a decade.
The first challenge is the public registration of demobilized fighters. The Victims Law gives each ex-paramilitary soldier six months to appear at a government office to sign the Contribution Agreement.
Advisors from the High Council for Reintegration are touring the country in an attempt to socialize the law with former AUC members, but many ex-fighters are afraid to come forward. The law is pending final approval by the Constitutional Court.
The demobilized soldiers undergoing judicial processing will remain free unless it becomes apparent that they have committed severe offenses, such as crimes against humanity. Those found to have committed offenses subsequently to demobilization will also be detained.
Approximately 16% of the ex-paramilitary members have already been arrested for re-offending. More than 6% have been killed within the past five years.
So far, only 500 demobilized fighters have come forward for registration.