Colombia’s FARC party on Tuesday called the national government to immediately release some 400 prisoners who the former rebels claim should have been released as part of an amnesty deal in 2017 already.
The former guerrillas, who demobilized and formed a political party in 2017, are insisting that the prisoners were listed on pre-peace agreement amnesty lists that should ensure their release, slamming the government’s inability to comply with the deal.
“We urge all government entities, guarantor countries, the national and international community to join forces that will allow us to guarantee the freedom of all political prisoners and the effective implementation of the Peace Agreement,” read a statement.
The Amnesty Law was approved on December 28, 2016 and includes legal forgiveness for all members of the FARC, except for those who have committed serious crimes such as those against humanity, sexual abuse or recruitment of minors, among others.
Those suspected of those crimes must be tried by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), which offer reduced sentences for full compliance, but in some cases has denied people’s release.
There was no progress regarding approximately 1,000 former FARC-EP members whose names were submitted by FARC to the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace on 10 August 2018. To date, some 160 accredited former combatants remain in prison. Most of those individuals are now under the authority of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace while their legal situation is under review by the latter’s Amnesty and Pardon Chamber. The Special Jurisdiction has already denied 24 requests for conditional liberty, finding that the individuals concerned did not fulfill the legal criterion, that is, that their alleged crimes were directly related to the armed conflict.
The FARC outlined its frustration that the government is failing to live up to its promises regarding the prisoners, 185 of whom have been certified by the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace.
Of the figure of 400 published by the FARC, 26 peacekeepers are in prison and the former combatants expressed concerns that 172 are “under observation,” not counting those in poor health.
“They are still waiting for the fulfillment of the promise of their release and the application of the widest possible amnesty,” said the statement.
“We hope that the legality and harmonious collaboration of all government entities in the implementation of the agreement will give us the legal certainty required by the process, without it becoming a rhetorical speech for the international community,”it added.
According to the 2016 peace deal, key actors in the conflict must stand trial before the transitional justice system, tell the truth about the multitude of crimes committed by the guerrillas and repair victims in exchange for receive judicial benefits.
The Marxist FARC demobilized and disarmed its troops after closing a peace deal with the Colombian government in November 2016. It has since formed a political party that party that is currently playing an active role in the Congress.
The FARC has long been critical of the government of President Ivan Duque, claiming it has consistently undermined key aspects of the peace agreement since its historic signing.
According to independent studies, “guerrillas” are responsible for an estimated 17% of crimes committed during the half-a-century armed conflict.
The military, the private sector and their paramilitary associated are presumed guilty of more than half of the crimes committed against innocent civilians.