Colombia’s largest illegal armed group, the AGC, is not the only one to put conditions on its surrender to justice. The authorities have some demands too.
The country’s largest remaining paramilitary group on Monday announced it would not seek an inclusion in a peace process with the FARC, but under conditions agree to surrender to justice.
According to Vice-President Oscar Naranjo, it will be the Prosecutor General’s Office that ultimately decides under what conditions the group that allegedly controls 70% of the country’s cocaine exports can lay down their weapons.
Unlike guerrilla groups FARC and ELN, the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia “are not recognized as a political actor,” which has prevented their designation as a terrorist group, but reduces their chances of judicial benefits.
According to Naranjo, the largest AUC dissident group is a drug trafficking organization now dubbed the Gulf Clan, not a politically-oriented self-defense force as Dario Antonio Usuga, a.k.a. “Otoniel,” and his men have claimed.
We are not talking about a political negotiation or a judicial negotiation. We do not recognize them as an armed political actor. We do not recognize the name Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia.
Vice-President Oscar Naranjo
Consequently, “it will be the Prosecutor General’s Office that determines how to expedite justice effectively and efficiently.”
The government does not just differ in opinion on the AGC’s nature, it continues to challenge the size of the group.
While a paramilitary spokesman told Colombia Reports earlier this year that the AGC had 8,000 men “including informants,” the Vice_president insisted on Blue Radio only 3,000 men are acting under the group’s name.
Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez laid out the government’s conditions to proceed with negotiations that would allow the group’s surrender to justice on his Office’s website.
The surrender must be at least conditioned to the absolute cessation of criminal activities, the delivery of the illegal assets of the organization and, of course, the [illicit] crops and drug trafficking routes.
Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez
In spite of being one of the most prominent human rights violators in Colombia, the prosecutor general did not demand victim restitution as agreed with the AUC and FARC, and negotiated with the ELN.
After peace deals with the AGC predecessors and the guerrillas, the government has consistently said dissident groups would not be granted political status, but be considered and tried as common criminals.
The prosecutor general said that he would talk to the Justice Minister to discuss the possible mass demobilization as Colombian criminal law lacks legislation to regulate the mass surrender of illegal armed groups.