Following major delays, Colombia’s national government, the United Nations and the FARC agreed to extend the deadline for the guerrillas’ demobilization and begin to actively fight paramilitary groups and drug traffickers.
The deadline for this was initially set for Wednesday. However, as the government has yet to deliver the containers in which arms can be stored, this deadline has been pushed back 20 days until June 20.
After these 20 days the FARC’s guerrillas and militia members should be entirely disarmed and the guerrillas’ weapons caches hidden in Colombia’s jungles recovered, according to the three-party verification mission.
The legal status of the FARC’s demobilization, disarmament and reintegration (DDR) camps will be extended with two months, the UN, the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC said.
As the government also failed to finish the construction of the DDR camps before the end of the transition period, these camps will be given a new purpose as so-called Territorial Education and Reincorporation Spaces, in which the FARC’s guerrillas would be prepared for their reintegration into society.
President Juan Manuel Santos also vowed to ratify the Special Investigation Unit of the Prosecutor General’s Office to effectively investigate and prosecute the illegal armed groups that have been killing social leaders, demobilized former FARC guerrillas and their family members.
Additionally, the president promised to “within hours” sign a decree to approve the Integrated Security System agreed in the peace deal. The president’s transitional mandate to decree legislation is set to expire on Wednesday.
More importantly, the government vowed to kick off a pilot project in the Pacific port cities of Buenaventura and Tumaco to effectively dismantle the paramilitary groups, FARC dissident groups and drug trafficking organizations that have usurped former FARC territory after the military had failed to effectively take control of these areas.
This responsibility will be transferred from the military to the Elite Police Force the government vowed to put together amid increasing indications that corrupt elements within the military are working together with drug traffickers and paramilitary groups to frustrate the process.
Meanwhile, the United Nations vowed to decide before June 10 whether it would extend its initial 180-day monitoring period with another three years as requested by the FARC and the government.
Since peace was signed on November 24, the process has been marred by state noncompliance of the peace agreement and an increasingly militant opposition by former President Alvaro Uribe and his hard-right Democratic Center party.
The ultra-conservative former president and his political allies have been accused of numerous war crimes and could face prison if they refuse to cooperate with the transitional justice system agreed in the peace deal.
An international commission is currently in the process of selecting the judges that will take part in this transitional justice system.
The entire peace process is supposed to last 10 years and includes major political and rural reforms to tackle political exclusion and rural poverty, considered two of the primary causes of the political violence that has marred Colombia since before the armed conflict with the FARC.