UN calls on Colombian government to ‘stop inciting violence’ against FARC

The recent murders of at least three FARC members undergoing the reincorporation process has raised further scrutiny on the role of Iván Duque’s government in providing security measures for former guerrillas.

The killings came less than a fortnight after the United Nations urged the Colombian government to stop ‘inciting violence’ against the FARC, which has seen over 135 of its members killed since the peace agreement was signed in November 2016.

In a letter dated 4 June, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, Agnes Callamard, and five other UN officials said ‘[w]e urge the Colombian Government to stop inciting violence against the demobilised FARC-EP and to comply with the guarantees given to them during the negotiations in Havana, especially respect for the right to life’.

The letter also criticised the government’s failure to implement security measures contained in the peace agreement. ‘The apparent disregard for these guarantees at state level is detrimental to peace, development and stability. The government must take immediate steps to implement the peace agreements’, it said.

It also cited the case of FARC member Dimar Torres, who was killed by the army in Catatumbo, eastern Colombia, on 22 April. Soldiers apparently then tried to cover up the extrajudicial killing of Torres, who worked in reincorporation projects for former guerrillas. An army colonel, Jorge Armando Pérez, is under investigation.

The UN officials said that Torres’ killing ‘is a challenge to the peace process, as it does not comply with the Final Agreement, which demands respect for the lives of all ex-combatants who lay down their arms. It is therefore a violation of the guarantees agreed upon by Colombia’.

The FARC has repeatedly called on the Colombian government to uphold the peace agreement, a position backed by the UN and many foreign governments. Following the murders of at least three FARC members between 13 and 17 June, the FARC called on the international community, including political organisations and social movements, ‘to demand immediate and effective measures from President Duque which are capable of putting a definitive end to this bloodshed’.