Fourth delegation of JFC Peace Monitor visits Colombia to observe peace process

The fourth delegation of the Justice for Colombia Peace Monitor visited Colombia between 16 and 21 February. Formed of European parliamentarians and trade union officials, the delegation met with diverse actors in the Colombian peace process, as well as communities, trade unions and organisations impacted by human rights violations.

The JFC Peace Monitor was launched in early 2018 to provide international support and monitoring for the 2016 peace agreement signed between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP. Although the agreement formally ended decades of armed conflict between the two sides, much of Colombia has remained impacted by political instability and violence. Over 500 community leaders, trade unionists and human rights defenders have been murdered since the agreement was signed in November 2016, as well as almost 190 FARC former guerrillas in the reincorporation process.

During its visit, the delegation met with:

  • The Presidential Counsellor for Stabilisation and Consolidation, Emilio Archila.
  • Leaders of the FARC political party (which formed under the terms of the agreement).
  • The Head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, Carlos Ruiz Massieu.
  • Senior representatives from the following entities created in the peace agreement: the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, which investigates and sanctions human rights violations committed during the conflict; the Search Unit for Disappeared People, which aims to locate many of the estimated 80,000 people forcibly disappeared during the conflict; and the Truth Commission, which is compiling testimonies and other historical records to document the armed conflict.
  • Congress members from several opposition political parties.
  • The Ambassadors of the Guarantor countries, Norway and Cuba, as well as the Ambassadors of Britain and Ireland.
  • Trade unions, human rights organisations and civil society leaders.

The delegation went to the Urabá region of northwest Colombia which historically suffered some of the worst abuses in the conflict. There, delegates visited the Madre Union community and heard about the ongoing presence of paramilitary-successor group, the Gaitainist Self-Defence Forces (AGC) which continues to commit human rights violations, including threats and restriction of movement, against the local population.

Also, in the Urabá region, delegates visited a community of FARC former guerrillas based in San José in León, where they are developing sustainable fish-farming to support livelihoods following the transition to civil society under the terms of the agreement. The delegation was also told about the specific challenges faced by women in the peace process, as well as the general insecurity impacting former guerrillas.

At the end of the visit, the delegation released a statement presenting its conclusions around the current situation in Colombia. Among its main concerns were the ongoing murders of social activists and former guerrillas, the slow implementation of the peace process and the lack of peace negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla organisation. You can read the full statement here.

The delegates on the fourth JFC Peace Monitor mission to Colombia were:

  • Clive Efford MP, Member of Parliament in the UK Parliament
  • Neil Findlay MSP, Member of Parliament in the Scottish Parliament
  • Adelina Escandell Grases, Senator in the Spanish state Senate
  • Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP, Member of Parliament in the UK Parliament
  • Sergio Bassoli, Political Officer, CGIL (Italy)
  • Josie Bird, President, UNISON (Britain and Northern Ireland)
  • Douglas Bruce Chalmers, President, UCU (Britain and Northern Ireland)
  • David Frederick Kitchen, President, NASUWT (Britain and Northern Ireland)
  • Margaret Mary McKee, Chair of International Committee, UNISON (Britain and Northern Ireland)
  • Gerry Murphy, President, ICTU (Ireland)
  • Susan Quinn, Education Convener, EIS (Scotland)
  • Hans Abildgård Sorensen, Regional President, 3F (Denmark)

For more information, visit the JFC Peace Monitor website.