Peace will be signed within six months at the latest: these are the words used by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in announcing an accord between the government of Bogota and FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forced of Colombia) guerrilla to end an over half a century conflict.
“In exactly 6 months we will be definitively ending the last and longest war fought not only in Colombia, but all of America. It is an enormous step”, added the President, after shaking hands with the second-in-command of the guerrilla group, Timoleon Jimenez, known as ‘Timochenko’, in a ceremony in Havana in the presence of Cuban President Raul Castro, who is hosting the negotiation begun three years ago. Confirmation arrived yesterday of a landmark turn in the peace process when Santos, for the first time, departed for Cuba to sit at the negotiating table.
Based on a statement released by the mediator nations, Cuba and Norway, the sides reached an accord on a delicate issue of the judiciary consequences of the conflict, one of the main aspects that has numerous times stalled the mediation.
The deal signed in fact foresees the creation of a “special jurisdiction for peace”, integrated by Colombian magistrates with the assistance of foreign jurists, with the duty of “ending impunity, obtaining the truth, establishing compensation for the victims and judging and applying sanctions for those responsible of serious crimes committed during the conflict”. These include crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture. An amnesty was instead announced for political crimes, to be defined by an apposite law.
In regard, Timoshenko stressed that the magistrates will need to address not only the activities of the guerrilla, but also other protagonists of the violent clashes, such as security forces and paramilitary groups.
Today’s accord closes a negotiation that over the past two years led to deals between the government and FARC on other delicate issues, such as land reform, the reinstatement of former rebels and an end to the production and trafficking of drugs. The sides also established regulations for mine removal throughout the conflict zones.
“This marks the first time in history that a government and armed group create a system of this sort, within their national juridical system”, added Santos, emphasizing however that the final accord will be submitted to a vote of the Colombian people.