The Colombian Senate has passed a law that could pave the way for peace talks with armed groups, putting an end to the long internal conflict in Colombia that has been dragging on for almost half a century. The so-called ‘legal framework for peace’ – now before the House of Representatives offers softer penalties for guerrillas who confess and cooperate with justice along with compensation for civilian victims and disarmament.
Passed with 65 votes in favor and three against, the text of the law has raised more than a criticism by human rights groups and politicians close to former President Alvaro Uribe. The latter they consider it too “lenient” towards people who are guilty of crimes that would go unpunished. The law would apply to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN), but not to the criminal gangs linked to drug trafficking and paramilitary groups.
So far, the head of state had always placed three conditions to open peace talks: that FARC would have to release all the hostages, renounce “terrorism” and stop the recruitment of children. Timid openings for dialogue had come in recent months also from the top of the group, which, however, denies holding hostage hundreds of civilians, as claimed by the NGO ‘País Libre’, which says there are 405, based on complaints from families.