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Colombia President, FARC Leader Shake Hands, See Peace Deal in 6 Months

Published in Editorial Written by  September 23 2015 font size decrease font size increase font size 0
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At a September 23 press conference in Havana, Cuba, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) leader Timoleon Jimenez (alias “Timochenko”) shook hands for the first time and issued a joint statement outlining a deal that would lead to a final “peace agreement” in the next six months.

 The FARC – which started-out some 60 years as a communist guerrilla group and gradually evolved into one of the world’s bloodiest narco-terrorist organizations, responsible for the murders and kidnappings of tens of thousands and the forced displacement of millions of Colombians – would face a special “transitional” justice scheme, under the announced deal.

President Santos said he hopes that the two parties can sign a final “peace agreement” within six months – that is, by March 2016 – and that the FARC would lay-down their arms no later than two months afterward, or around May 2016.

However, both Santos and “Timochenko” warned at the press conference that tough negotiations on remaining points in the “peace agreement” remain.

In addition, it’s quite possible -- even likely -- that at least some FARC members subsequently will migrate to other narco-terrorist organizations, similar to what happened with some members of now-disbanded “paramilitary” or "self-defense" narco-terrorist groups that surrendered to the Colombian government in the prior decade.

The deal doesn't make clear whether any of the top FARC leaders would face actual jail time, even though courts have already determined that they are responsible for countless murders, kidnapping and drug-trafficking crimes.

The official “joint communique” issued by the negotiating parties includes the following 10 points:

1. “The Government of the Republic of Colombia and the FARC reaffirm their commitment to the agreements reached to date: ‘Towards a New Colombia: Integrated Rural Reform,’ ‘Political participation: Democratic Opening for Building Peace’ and ‘Solution to the Problem of Illegal Drugs.’

2. “At the same time, they reaffirm their commitment to a justice formula that satisfies the rights of victims and contributes to building a stable and lasting peace. To that end we are building a comprehensive system of truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition. In this framework we have agreed that a Commission for the Investigation of Truth, Coexistence and Repetition be created and have achieved important agreements on reparation for victims.

3. “Regarding the component of justice, we agreed to create a special jurisdiction for Peace, which will include Chambers of Justice and a Tribunal for Peace. The Chambers and the Tribunal will be mainly composed of Colombian judges, and will have a minority stake of foreigners who meet the highest requirements. The essential function of the Chambers and the Tribunal for Peace is to end impunity, contribute to the reparation of victims and prosecute and impose sanctions on those responsible for serious crimes committed during the armed conflict, particularly the most serious and representative, ensuring non-repetition.

4. “The component of justice provides that at the termination of hostilities, according to [international human-rights law], the Colombian state will grant the broadest possible amnesty for political and related crimes. An amnesty law will specify the scope of connectedness [between ‘political’ and ‘related’ crimes]. In any case there will be no amnesty or pardon for offenses defined in national legislation that correspond to crimes against humanity, genocide and serious war crimes, including serious crimes such as hostage-taking or other severe deprivation of freedom, torture, forced displacement, forced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and sexual violence. These offenses will be subject to investigation and prosecution by the Special Court for Peace.

5. “The Special Court for Peace shall have jurisdiction over all those who directly or indirectly participated in the armed conflict, including the FARC and [Colombian government] officials for the crimes committed in the context of the conflict, particularly for the most serious and representative cases.

6. “The Special Court for Peace provides for two types of procedures: one for those who recognize truth and responsibility, and one for those who do not, or do so belatedly. For those in the first case, sentences will be imposed based upon admitted behavior, and following investigations of the Prosecutor General’s Office or other state bodies, or existing court decisions, as well as [using] information from victims organizations and human rights organizations. For those in the latter case, they will face an adversarial trial before the Tribunal.

7. “The sanctions imposed by the Court have as an essential aim to satisfy the rights of victims and consolidate peace and must be the most restorative and reparative [to compensate for] the damage. For those who acknowledge responsibility for the crimes within the system, the penalty will have a component of restriction of freedoms and rights to ensure compliance with repairing and restoring of the same functions by performing deeds, works and activities and general satisfaction of the rights of victims.

“The penalties for serious crimes will recognize a minimum duration of five years and compliance with a maximum of eight years of effective restriction of freedom, under special conditions. Persons making such recognition belatedly before the Court shall be punished with imprisonment for five to eight years in ordinary conditions. To be eligible for alternative sentencing, or to qualify for an alternative penalty, this will require that the [criminal] undertakes to contribute to social rehabilitation through work, training or study for as long as he [or she]  is deprived of liberty. People who refuse to acknowledge their responsibility for such crimes will be found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment up to 20 years, under ordinary conditions.

8. “To receive any special treatment by the Special Court for Peace, it will be necessary to provide full truth, compensate the victims and guarantee non-repetition.

9. “In the case of the FARC, participation in the [transitional justice] system shall be subject to the surrender of weapons, which should start no later than 60 days after the signing of the Final Agreement.

10. “The transformation of the FARC into a legal political movement is a shared goal, which will have the full support of the Government in the terms agreed.”

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