10 April 2018, Bogota, Colombia
The Justice for Colombia Peace Monitor delegation, comprised of British and Irish parliamentarians and international trade union leaders, visited Colombia between 5 and 10 April 2018 to observe the current state of implementation of the peace agreement signed between the Colombian government and the FARC in November 2016.
Before we present the findings of our delegation, we want to briefly comment on events yesterday. We are concerned about the implications of the detention of Jesus Santrich of the People’s Alternative Revolutionary Force. Yesterday morning, our delegation met with Mr Santrich and other leading members of the FARC. We felt there is an absolute and unreserved commitment to the peace process.
We urge the Colombian government and all international institutions to ensure a transparent and just legal process for Jesus Santrich which fully complies with the terms of the peace agreement.
We note that last night’s statement from the United Nations verification mission highlights information stating that the Special Jurisdiction for Peace has competence to review the case.
The eight members of our delegation have spent the last five days in different parts of the country. We met with:
- Colombia’s vice-president
- the UN Verification Mission in Colombia,
- the FARC
- the High Commissioner for Peace
- the Congressional Peace Commission
- the embassies involved in supporting the peace process
- trade unions, human rights defenders and civil society representatives
We visited the Training and Reincorporation space at Llano Grande in Antioquia to observe the state of reincorporation of ex combatants and see the cooperative projects they are taking part in. We also went to Caloto in Cauca and heard testimony from victims of human rights violations.
Our delegation recognises the important advances made in the implementation of the peace agreement and congratulates all those involved.
We’ve heard how the FARC has disarmed and is now a political party which recently participated in elections for the first time. We’ve been impressed with grassroots initiatives to implement the peace agreement in communities that were previously affected by high levels of political violence. We also welcome the agreement’s commitment to address the impact of conflict on women and minorities.
However, our delegation has also identified concerns which must be addressed:
- The killings of social leaders have increased drastically. The UN has found that 121 social leaders and human rights defenders were killed last year. Many of the victims were working to implement the peace agreement. We heard that 52 members of the FARC and 11 of their close family members have also been killed since the agreement was signed.
- We were told of the slow implementation of the agreement, particularly around the issue of land reform. Many rural communities have yet to receive any land even though this is one of the most important elements of the agreement.
- Hundreds of FARC members are still in prison despite the Amnesty Law. We believe that the soonest possible release of the prisoners, consistent with the terms of the agreement, would benefit the peace process.
- There is slow progress with reincorporation projects for the FARC members and the issue of land for productive projects is still to be resolved.
- We are concerned to hear the issues surrounding the implementation of the crop substitution program chapter 4 of the peace agreement.
- The truth and justice process of the agreement has been subject to changes which will make it harder for victims to learn the truth. We are concerned these changes mean that some people guilty of serious human rights violations committed during the conflict will not be held to account.
- We are concerned to hear that the representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has yet to receive the accreditation for the full mandate. We believe it is essential the office can continue its important work.
We would like to congratulate the international community on its contribution so far and believe it has an essential ongoing role in providing support and assistance to the peace process and human rights in Colombia.
We know that our visit coincides with a period of uncertainty as the country prepares for presidential elections in May but we hope that Colombia will continue working towards peace with social justice.
We call on the next Colombian government to respect the terms of the peace agreement and ensure it is fully implemented.
We would like to express our solidarity to all Colombians and emphasise our absolute support for the peace process. And thank everyone who has shared their stories and experiences with us.
For more information, follow @JFCPeaceMonitor or see colombiapeacemonitor.org