The Inspector General, Alejandro Ordóñez on Thursday announced that public officials who traveled to Havana to meet with rebel group FARC without the permission of the government will be investigated to ascertain whether they have incurred a disciplinary offence.
In an effort to discuss a bill President Juan Manuel Santos introduced last month that would put any agreement reached between the FARC and his government’s negotiators on a ballot referendum in the upcoming national elections, the rebels extended an invitation to congressional leaders to meet in Havana.
While Santos has not dismissed the notion, he has insisted that Colombian congressmen will only travel to Havana in order to meet with rebel group FARC when the government deems it appropriate.
But according to Radio Santa Fe, the Inspector General’s office have become aware of “several public officials who traveled to Havana without the permission of the government.”
Without revealing the officials names, Ordonez said “in previous weeks, public officials, violating the legal prohibition i.e without the authorization of the President of the Republic or of the High Commissioner for Peace, have been operating in Havana.”
Ordonez likened the offence to those embroiled in the parapolitics scandal, in which thousands of congressmen and other politicians have been linked to the AUC, a now defunct paramilitary group responsible for numerous human rights abuses.
“There is no difference between those who meet with the paramilitaries and those who in previous weeks, being a public official in violation of the legal prohibition without authorization of the president or high commissioner, have been operating in Havana.”
Ordonez added that the results of the investigations will be announced in the coming weeks. The government and rebel group FARC have been involved in peace talks since November in order to seek a negotiated end to the internal conflict.
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.