We welcome the efforts of rapprochement in the pursuit of peace through dialogue and political negotiations between the government of President Santos and the guerrillas of the FARC-EP.
At the same time we would like to see rapprochement and a response to the repeated manifestations of the guerrillas of the ELN to enter into dialogue.
This atmosphere would not have been possible without the constant clamor of society, the courageous communities and organizations, and the courage of ‘Colombianas y Colombianos por la Paz’, headed by Piedad Cordoba, who through the exchange of letters have achieved humanitarian responses and policies of the guerrillas of the FARC and the ELN, with the liberation of persons deprived of liberty in the hands of the FARC, with its declarations regarding the situation FARC and ELN guerrillas deprived of their freedom in prisons within Colombia and abroad, and with its concrete support to humanitarian proposals of communities throughout Colombia amidst the armed conflict.
Being witnesses, during our visits to the different places in Colombia, of the serious effects experienced by communities, organizations and individuals claiming their rights in the middle of the armed conflict, we urge the government to conduct these negotiations with full participation of the victims, their organizations and the organized civil society, so that the negotiations may lead to profound economic, social and political changes, the root causes for the rise of the armed conflict and the social exclusion, while respecting the right to the truth, justice and comprehensive reparations for non-repetition.
The eventual agreements in a space of dialogues are an opportunity to build solid foundations
for these democratic projections but are not per se constituent for democratic changes. The transition to lasting peace is much more than justice, truth, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition, requiring from the Colombian State the disposition of a political will to redefine the national budget as to inclusion, protection of rights, protection of the biological richness and fair trade.
A lasting peace is not contrary to the rights of victims. The discussions about transitional justice mechanisms in order to find viable formulas that are legally and ethically acceptable, cannot depart from the denial of criminal investigations. On the contrary, any transitional claim must start with effective and thorough investigation, in order to obtain judicial clarification of command structures and beneficiaries. This to facilitate the possible acceptance or not of the victims for alternatives for those responsible for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and gross and systematic human rights violations. Including, for example, the necessity to know what happened and the devolution of those who disappeared or full guarantees for a return in dignity for the displaced persons.
The peace needs to face the consolidated walls of criminality of state agents and structures that have made possible the extermination of the social movement and political expressions. These covert operations have ensured the accumulation and the protection of wealth, and the logics of corruption in the exercise of power.
Without thoroughly clarifying the truth about the crimes committed against these populations, their perpetrators and true beneficiaries, without appropriate criminal investigations executed by timely and impartial means, in ordinary courts with penalties proportionate to the gravity of the crimes committed and without reparations that reflect the victim’s necessities, it will be difficult to find legal solutions. No agreement may be made that leaves out and sets aside both victims as society. In this sense, the guerrillas of the FARC and ELN will have to assume their ethical, political and legal responsibility, recognizing the political character of their crimes. At the same time should be a properly identification of the damages caused in the persons, their lives, integrity and freedom.
We invite President Santos to consider the proposal of the communities, with which we work, to agree to a verifiable ceasefire in order to make the process credible to those who suffered from the armed conflict. A bilateral cease fire will make the process credible and will make the guerillas act in accordance with their will to end the conflict.
We are very worried about how the Reform to the military Justice and the so called operational law project (proyecto del Derecho Operacional will be contrary to the dialogue. Both are proposal to maintain continuity of the internal armed conflict and pretend to guarantee impunity in the different stages of society militarization has been taking place since the military consolidation period.
The reform of the military justice system raises the presumption of a connection to the service by which the operations and procedures of the security forces during which human rights violations and breaches of humanitarian law were committed, can be understood as acts of service. Leaving open the possibility of manipulating the crime scene and omit the evidence collection and associated elements that could ascertain the responsibility of State agents.
This Reform undermines the duty of guarantee of states over their citizens, it distorts the nature of the rule of law, and the states responsibility to PREVENT AND PUNISH the responsibility for gross and systematic violations of human rights and breaches of international humanitarian law.
Although the Legal Framework for Peace (Marco legal para la paz) has not been yet regulated and it´s said that it doesn´t include state agents, we are concerned about the interpretation of application of this framework which, can be interpreted through the selection and prioritization of investigations of those most responsible for crimes against humanity, genocide, or systematically committed war crimes as a waiver to investigate the vast majority of the crimes committed. Additionally, it can be interpreted as a way out for the few condemned state agents, who could benefit from the suspension of execution of their sentence or other alternatives. Enabled should be transitional formulas respecting the rights of the victims.
If the truth is designed to facilitate collective consciousness of what should not be repeated, the establishment of a Truth Commission, after the possible agreements with the guerrillas, should consider initiatives as to the memory and right to the truth that already exist, including the proposal of the Truth Commission which we have worked on with organizations, communities and groups of victims through our commissioners work together with National Movement of Victims of State Crimes.
The absence of a ceasefire in the rapprochements between the government and the guerrillas, alongside these legal reforms and the continued militarization and territorial social control raise concern as factors that cause more victims, further victimization and questions the will towards peace.
The fight against impunity, the purification of the security forces and state organizations of persons responsible for serious violations of human rights as to recover the trust in the authorities, further democratization and a broad participation the of civil society in political deliberation, a serious limitation in wealth accumulation and distribution in accordance with a rule of law and the recognition of the rights of the victims, will be determining factors for a process that will enable a profound democracy in Colombia.
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel – Nobel Peace Prize winner, SREPAJ, Argentina
Mirta Barravalle, Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo “Madres de la Plaza de Mayo – founding line”, Argentine
Bishop Emeritus Thomas Gumbleton, Detroit, USA
Community of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Andrés Redondo, Pilar Sánchez, Alberto Giráldez Dávila, Madrid, Spain
Elizabeth Deligio, Charity Ryerson, School of The Americas Watch / SOA Watch, USA
Enrique Nuñez, Ethics Commission Against Torture, Chile, Chile
Enrique Santiago, lawyer, human rights expert, Spain
Lorenzo Loncon, Werken Mapuche Nation, Argentina
Mary Bricker-Jenkins, PhD, Assembly to End Poverty/Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, USA
Miguel Álvarez, president of Serapaz, Mexico
Movimiento Sin Tierras, MST, Bernardo Camilo da Silva, human rights secretary, Brasilia
Professor Dr. Gilberto López y Rivas; National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico, Mexico
Professor Carlos Fazio, Universidad Autónoma of Mexico – UNAM, Mexico
Professor Stephen Haymes, DePaul University, USA
Rick Ufford-Chase, Executive Director, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship of the Mennonite Church, USA
Vicenta Font de Gregori, director of Catalan International Institute of Peace, Antonio Pigrau lawyer and professor of international law, Espai Catalunya-Comissió Ètica, Spain