As part of a peace deal to end 52 years of war, Colombia’s government on Wednesday pardoned the first 100 FARC guerrillas, and expects to reach 300 by early 2017.
“The idea is to resolve around 300 [cases] by this year and the beginning of next. Altogether there are about 4,500 FARC guerrilla members in jail,” said Justice Minister Jorge Londoño at a press conference on Wednesday.
All these guerrillas will be let out of prison to take part in a transitional justice system that will allow the amnesty of those not suspected of serious war crimes.
The announcement by Londoño came after the government presented Congress an amnesty law that is key for the guerrillas’ effective demobilization.
Only FARC guerrillas imprisoned for political offenses such as “rebellion” are being pardoned; those suspected of serious war crimes will await their fate via a transitional justice tribunal, along with members of the military and civilians also accused of violations of humanitarian law.
“We expect very soon the first releases of more FARC guerrillas and private collaborators of freedom for pardonable crimes,” said the FARC’s chief peace negotiator, Luciano Marin, a.k.a. “Ivan Marquez,” according to El Espectador.
The entire demobilization and disarmament process of the FARC lasts 180 days after which the guerrillas will either be free men taking part in reintegration processes or be held captive while on trial for war crimes.