Colombia’s Congress president on Tuesday urged the rights of conflict victims to urgently be included in ongoing peace talks between the country’s government and rebel group FARC.
Senator Juan Fernando Cristo, after meeting with the presidents of the peace commissions of the senate and house, said that “discussing the rights of the victims would give impetus to the ongoing peace talks.”
“I think that it would be a major boost to the process to see the FARC make the decision to recognize their victims, to express their willingness to contribute to reparations and to ask for forgiveness,” explained Cristo.
The senator’s comments followed a recent statement by prominent FARC leaders who — while failing to publicly apologize — admitted to having made mistakes, of which “some serious.”
“I have no problem in telling a woman or a family: ‘I feel sorry about the pain we have caused with the death of your loved one’ ,” FARC negotiator said in an interview last week.
During the meeting, the lawmakers agreed that a report, containing the views of more than 3,000 victims in respect to the current peace talks between the government and the rebel group, be delivered to the respective delegations on August 27.
“Ideally a very small delegation of victims can go to Havana to present this report and begin a dialogue with the FARC and the government,” said Cristo.
The President of Congress also expressed his concern with the pace of the negotiations.
“We are evaluating a statement to the peace commissions asking the parties to speed up the talks. When you dilate the talks, you are giving ammunition to the enemies of the peace process who continue to attack it from all sides.”
“We are concerned that to indefinitely prolong this process is to condemn it to a slow death,” added Cristo.
The FARC and the government have been involved in peace talks since November in order to seek a negotiated end to a conflict that has lasted almost 50 years.
While an accord has been reached regarding land reform, no agreements have been made on the issue of the FARC’s political participation, drug trafficking, the practicalities of the end of the armed conflict and the rights of the victims.