Fourth Group of Victims Meet Negotiators

News from Colombia | on: Monday, 3 November 2014

Victims ask for end to landmines, displacement, child recruitment, and discrimination against the LGBT community, and for state to resolve the situation in Colombia’s prisons.

On Sunday the fourth group of victims visited the peace negotiators of the Colombian Government and the FARC in Havana to deliver their experiences. The group was made up of twelve people, equal numbers of both genders, with 3 victims of paramilitarism, 2 victims of the FARC and 2 victims of the state, alongside 5 victims whose victimisers are unclear or come from more than one group.

The victims each had 15 minutes to make their representations. One of them, Tulio Murillo, an imprisoned FARC member held in a state prison had to participate by video link because the government did not allow him to accompany the other victims to Cuba. In their summary the victims asked for a solution to the problem of landmines, an end to the discrimination against the LGBT community, an end to displacement and the illegal seizure of land, and halting the recruitment of children into armed groups. The victims also asked the parties to recognise their debt with those in exile and to recognise sexual violence as a crime against humanity. They also requested that the state resolve the situation of its prisoners and that all the victims reporting to the talks have their security guaranteed. Several other victims have reportedly received threats since returning to Colombia from reporting their situations in Havana.

In a statement on the talks the FARC commented on the lack of balance in the make up of the group of victims, arguing that victims of the state are under-represented in it. They also repeated their commitment to achieving a ceasefire with the government in order to prevent the creation of new victims while the talks are ongoing. They also expressed their particular concern for the situation of prisoners of war (captured insurgents) held in state prisons, listing 8 recent cases whereby FARC and ELN prisoners have been killed or have died from lack of medical attention. On October 29 the FARC also released a statement whereby they stated that the talks on victims must recognise the existence of their parallel legal system. Under this legal system, the insurgents claim, harm to civilians is forbidden, adding that in cases where it has occurred, they carry out their own punishments, which ought to be taken into account by the negotiators.

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