Colombia’s ombudsman praises acknowledgment of victims in peace talks

Jorge Armando Otálora (Photo: El Espectador)

Colombia’s highest government human rights official has praised the agreement between the government and the FARC, the country’s largest rebel group, to address the issue of victims in the country’s half-century long conflict.

Colombia’s ombudsman, Jorge Armando Otalora Gomez, has hailed the framework agreement reached by the government and the FARC to address the issue of the victims of armed conflict as a major positive breakthrough in achieving peace, in a statement released on Monday.

The ombudsman said  that the 10 aspects taken into account as a basis for victim’s reparations will be successful in restoring their rights and take into account the more than six million Colombians who have endured the rigors of war.

  1. Acknowledgement of victims
  2. Acknowledgment of responsibility.
  3. Satisfaction of victims’ rights.
  4. Participation of victims.
  5. Clarification of the truth.
  6. Reparation for victims.
  7. Guarantees for protection and security.
  8. Guarantee of non-repetition.
  9. Principle of reconciliation.
  10. Rights perspective.

Since November 2013, the ombudsman had been asking to create mechanisms to facilitate the direct participation of victims in the negotiation tables in Havana, Cuba.

Gomez stressed the importance of recognizing the criteria of the victims, including the acknowledgment of responsibility, satisfaction of the rights of victims, clarification of the truth, reparation, reconciliation, and the principles of a rights-based approach, as well as guarantees of protection, security and non-repetition included in the framework agreement that was released over the weekend.

The ombudsman highlighted the necessity to create a technical committee to begin discussions about the end of the conflict, and announced his availability to attend regional forums to strengthen the participation of victims in the peace process.

Last Saturday, in an historic announcement, the FARC and the country’s government on recognized being victimizers in the armed conflict and announced that they would be inviting victims to take part in ongoing peace talks.

MOREFARC formally admits responsibility for victims of Colombia conflict

The two negotiation teams announced the agreement to begin discussing victim compensation and said they would be scheduling the participation of victims in the talks as a “declaration of principles” that seeks the “granting of rights of victims,” which according to the negotiators “is an essential part of the guarantees to achieve peace.”

Colombia’s victims celebrated the announcement, with one national advocacy group for victims expressing its support on Monday for the announced structure of the peace talks between the government and FARC.

MORE: Colombia conflict victims advocacy group celebrates new peace talks agenda

The peace talks, currently being held in Havana, Cuba, began in November, 2012.

So far, the Colombian government and the FARC have agreed upon three points of a six point peace agreement, which included agrarian reform, political participation rights, and illicit drugs.

Following the issue of victims, demobilization and an overall peace agreement are next on the agenda.


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