A high-level delegation from the Iraqi government arrived in Colombia Wednesday to learn about the reintegration process for demobilized combatants.
Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos announced that the delegation “came to learn from Colombia and see how we could help them in their own process of reintegrating society for living in peace.”
The Iraqis reportedly told Santos that they chose Colombia because it “is the country that we have identified as an example of the reintegration process.”
The 12-member delegation includes Iraq’s Minister of National Reconciliation Amer Hassan Hashoosh, the head of the National Reconciliation Committee, and a member of the Iraqi Parliament.
The delegation was invited to Colombia by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), an intergovernmental organization that works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners to promote and advance understanding of humane and orderly migration.
The Iraqi delegates were briefed on some of Colombia’s challenges and lessons learned in the process of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration.
Colombia’s Justice and Peace process offered demobilized fighters reduced sentences in return for their demobilization, complete confession of their crimes, participation in testimonial tribunals, and the compensation of their victims.
According to the Colombian government, an estimated 53,000 combatants from illegal armed groups have demobilized since 2002, when former-President Alvaro Uribe took office.
However, the demobilization process of the umbrella paramilitary organization AUC has been criticized by victims, human rights organizations, and the United Nations for allowing paramilitary fighters and their economic and political allies to enjoy almost complete impunity for murder and other crimes. There were also incidents of false demobilizations.
Colombia’s reintegration process is still a work in progress. In addition to meeting with the Iraqi delegation, Santos spent Wednesday urging Congress to pass a transitional justice draft legislation, which he said will provide the much-needed legal framework for reintegrating over 25,000 demobilized combatants.
Iraq is not the first country to use Colombia as a model for transitional justice; the Philippines and Sri Lanka have both requested Colombia’s assistance.
“What Colombia has done on the matter of reintegration has become a worldwide example,” Santos said.