An international human rights group has said a Colombian peace process cannot begin unless mediators are given access to FARC prisoners, reported local media Friday.
In a letter to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Women of the World Advocates for Peace (MMGP), led by ex-senator Piedad Cordoba, expressed their disappointment she had not yet been authorized to visit the FARC prisoners.
The FARC, which released its last ten political hostages Monday, had earlier said it would only go through with the liberation if Cordoba was given prisoner access – but ultimately freed them anyway. MMGP said it felt deceived by the government, which had promised to allow a visit.
The government initially granted Cordoba premission to visit the FARC guerrillas “on humanitarian grounds” but later withdrew it, saying it felt the peace activist was using her visit “as a ‘down payment” in the peace process between the guerrillas and the government.”
MMGP insists third-party tours to verify the prisoners’ condition would improve dialogue between the government and the FARC, Colombia’s largest guerrilla group.
The letter also congratulated the government and the FARC for Monday’s successful hostage release, in which the last of the guerrillas’ political hostages were freed after more than 12 years in captivity.
A separate letter was sent to the FARC thanking the groups for fulfilling its promise to liberate the six soldiers and four police.
MMGP began the letter by thanking Santos for his public recognition of their role in the peace process. Cordoba’s role of the head of Colombians for Peace was also acknowledged, alongside the role of the Brazilian government, which provided helicopters.