Colombia’s largest rebel group FARC on Monday said that the International Criminal Court (ICC) knows little about Colombia’s internal conflict.
Ivan Marquez, the rebels chief negotiator, read the communique in Havana which in part was a response to comments made on August 15 by the Prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda.
Bensouda spoke of the legal framework for peace, a pending bill which sets the legal boundaries of what the government is and is not allowed to agree with the rebels, and insisted that “the most serious crimes of concern to the international community (committed by the FARC) must not go unpunished.”
Marquez responded by criticizing the ICC’s knowledge of the Colombian conflict, before rejecting the notion that the rebels should face punishment for their crimes.
“And what about an International Criminal Court, interventionist and biased, which knows little about the internal Colombian conflict,” said Marquez.
“We don’t want the gift of seats in Congress if the price is to pay that, while some of us go to Congress, others will gain a seat behind bars or be condemned to extradition,” he added.
Marquez also made a direct reference to the legal framework for peace, legislation the FARC believe is impossible.
“It would change the government into the judge of the conflict, omitting the fact that the state is part of the conflict and cannot be judge,” explained Marquez.
President Santos said last month at the Constitutional Court’s open hearing on the legal framework for peace that he will refuse to “sacrifice justice for peace” during negotiations with the rebel group.
“We cannot expect to end a 50 year war without thinking about how to deal with the legacy of gross human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law,” said Santos.
Colombia’s chief prosecutor Eduardo Montealegre stated days later however, that demobilized FARC guerrillas may be able to evade prison under a post conflict transitional justice system, even if they are convicted of crimes against humanity.
“I believe that it is possible…the sentence can be provisionally suspended if this corresponds to the needs of overcoming the conflict,” said Montealegre.
The FARC and the government have been involved in peace talks since November in order to seek a negotiated end to the internal conflict.
The rebel group suspended peace talks on Friday however in order to study a government proposal on a referendum sealing an eventual peace deal.
Despite this, the government and rebel delegates are set to meet again on Monday to continue the 13th round of talks, currently focused on the eventual political participation of the FARC in a post-conflict Colombia.
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.