Colombia (PanAm) – FARC’s Final Request Could Make or Break Peace Talks
A new requirement has been added to the peace agreement between the guerilla group FARC and the Colombian government.
FARC reportedly wants the release of 9,000 prisoners, that, if not agreed to, would end the peace process.
Guerrilla leader Carlos Antonio Lozada, who was in Colombia to visit the villages for FARC members after disarmament, confirmed the new request.
“If there’s no amnesty, there will be no final agreement, it is that simple,” he said. “If there is an amnesty law, there will be no final agreement and if there is no agreement there will be no mobilization of those zones.”
The government has been receptive to the amnesty and pardon law for the guerrillas who are in prison, though there are doubts by some that there are in fact 9,000 prisoners in total.
A verification process of the country’s prisoners has been initiated so that in applying the law of amnesty and pardon, criminal offenders who do not belong to the ranks of the FARC do not get out. If the request is approved, those who are guilty of political crimes (riot, sedition and rebellion) may go free.
Despite advances in dialogue, there is still some distrust between each negotiating party, which is why FARC has demanded the release of prisoners through the law of amnesty and pardon rather than as part of the agreement signed in Havana.
Amnesty means the guerrillas never go to trial, and all the crimes they have committed would be forgotten. In the case of a pardon, the guerrillas would have to go to trial, receive a sentence and then get a full or partial reduction in what they have to pay for their crimes.
FARC also requested that members of FARC be tried by the special tribunal for peace and, when accountable for political offenses, be eligible to pay penalties with restorative justice outside of jail.
According to Colombian law and the Treaty of Rome, they may only be pardoned and amnestied for political offenses, which include rebellion, sedition and mutiny.
This has opened the door to treating drug trafficking as a political offense. FARC has argued it was an activity carried out to finance its political activities. However, it was found FARC members have individually gained from such activities.
This report prepared by Julián Villabona Galarza for PanAm Post.