European Parliament expresses support for Colombia peace process

A number of MEPs in the European Parliament reiterated their support for the Colombia Peace Agreement this week in a special debate to mark five years since its signature. 

Speakers sent a strong message on the need for the agreement to be implemented in full, for continuation of the work of the transitional justice mechanism (Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz (JEP)) and for protection against the rising number of attacks against ex-combatants, social activists and human rights defenders.

A statement on behalf of the EU High Representative/Vice-President for Foreign Affairs Josep Borell, delivered by European Commissioner Yiva Johansson emphasised Europe’s main concern is the persistence of violence.

She said: “Recent months have seen massacres of civilians, the deterioration in the humanitarian situation of local communities in some regions. This is violence against ex-combatants committed to peace, against social leaders, human rights and environmental defenders..Violence must end – the EU has conveyed this concern to the Government of Colombia. Fighting impunity is another key. The transitional justice system is up and running, but needs to advance..The only path towards lasting peace is full implementation of the peace agreement in all its parts.”

Javi Lopez MEP (Socialist and Democrat) said: “We need to continue to work for full compliance with the agreement by all parties.. At the same time today we must not fail to denounce the slayings which have taken place over recent years. [These] have got more serious recently, against ex-fighters and environmental defenders..There is no complete democracy, if the authorities fail to guarantee the safety of those who take part.”

Jordi Solé MEP (Greens) said: “We have to say loud and clear that there are situations of concern. In particular, the growing violence with record figures of human rights and environmental activists being assassinated. One in two assassinations of that type [globally] take place in Colombia.”

Manu Pineda MEP (The Left) said: “Since [Duque] came to power there has been a systematic failure to comply with the Peace Agreement. And the violence continues, with killings of signatories to the Agreement, social leaders and human rights defenders. Fear continues to reign, as do the threats as does the negative climate towards reaching peace and political solutions.”

Idoia Villanueva Ruiz MEP (The Left) said: “The killings are taking place in a context of failed implementation of the peace agreement signed five years ago..The European Union has financed part of the implementation of the peace agreement – we should require implementation by the [Colombian] Government.”

Isabel Santos MEP (Socialist and Democrat) said: “In the past five years, we have seen the slaying of more than 440 human rights defenders. Only in 2020, more than 240 people were murdered in 61 massacres. The perpetrators got away scot-free..The European Union has made a major contribution by way of humanitarian aid, but all support will not be enough unless we tackle the problem at the root. We must fight against inequalities and speed up the roll out of the peace agreement when it comes to [transitional] justice, rural reform, reintegration of ex-fighters and the fight against organised crime.” 

Pernando Barrena Arza MEP (The Left) said: “Many community activists have been killed by paramilitary and armed groups.. It is very important for the well-being of the Colombian people to continue the [peace] process with justice, reparations and to make sure there will be no repetition..It is time for the Government to take up the [peace] talks with the ELN.”

Iban Garcia Del Blanco MEP (Socialists and Democrats) said: “How is it feasible to hear the United Nations figures about hundreds of people being slain each year? We are facing a situation today which is a lot worse than before the Agreement was signed, in some areas..For there to be a fair peace agreement you cannot have the parties being murdered. The Colombian state must stand up for those people who are being persecuted, threatened, even murdered.”

Massimiliano Smeriglio MEP (Socialists and Democrats) said: “Issues related to land use continue to be a major obstacle to implementation of the agreement, as well as transitional justice.. The Colombian authorities have a duty to uphold human rights, to protect civil society and to maintain their political commitment to peace.”

Monica Silvana Gonzalez MEP (Socialist and Democrats) said: “We are alarmed by the attacks and assassinations of human rights and environmental activists.. Only 4 per cent of the rural reform has been implemented.. We must pay close attention to the Colombian government.”

There were several further contributions which showed cross-party consensus on the importance of the peace process and the condemnation of violence and assassinations of ex-combatants, human rights defenders and social activists including from members of Renew Europe and the European People’s Party