Excluding those responsible for human rights abuses, Colombia’s Congress promises that members of the FARC, the group responsible for thousands of deaths, kidnappings, forced disappearances and forced displacements, will not go to jail in exchange for peace.
When peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC were formally begun in Norway’s capital Oslo on Thursday, president of the Senate Roy Barreras said that, “some of the combatants would not have custodial sentences.”
Barreras said that although there won’t be amnesties, the Legal Framework for Peace allows for the application of transitional justice, a form of justice traditionally used where agreements and deals are made to help achieve peace.
“It is possible that in exchange for peace some members of the FARC would not go to prison,” said Barreras. “The peace framework allows for the application of transitional justice and alternative mechanisms for justice that can allow for the suspension of penalties, and the eventual political participation of the combatants, excluding those responsible for crimes against humanity.”
Barreras also backed the position of the government’s chief negotiator Humberto De la Calle, who said that at the table of negotiation there would be no room for discussion of the Colombian State because the aim of the the negotiations is “not to catechize anyone.”
“The object of the negotiations,” said the Senate president, “is not to agree on a political, social or economic model. The one objective is to find an agreement for the parties to put an end to the internal conflict.”
“All the terrible differences in political, social and economic models for the country can be voted on through democracy, and with guarantees rather than with arms,” said Barreras.
The Legal framework for peace has long been a bone of contention in political, social and human rights groups, who complain that it could allow for those responsible for heinous crimes, not only to escape jail time, but to be elected as politicians and councillors.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has always maintained that those “most responsible” for the worst crimes would be charged and punished and that the law would prevent the guerrillas from returning to a life of crime. Human rights groups such as Amnesty International however have said that the law “sends a dangerous message” to those involved in the peace process, as in their view it does not sufficiently protect human rights.