A master key to open the doorway to peace in Colombia was found today in Havana, with the signing of an historic agreement for the creation of a Special Jurisdiction for Peace.
The agreement, signed in the presence of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, and the maximum leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP), Timoleón Jiménez, is the fourth reached on an agenda of six issues which have been under discussion in the Cuban capital since November 19, 2012.
Already agreed upon are the issues of land, illicit drugs and political participation. With this agreement regarding victims signed, what remains are implementation, verification and ratification of the agreement, and lastly the end of the conflict itself.
According to the joint communiqué read by the guarantors of the peace process, Cuba and Norway, both sides was committed to a formula for justice which validates the rights of victims and contributes to a stable and lasting peace.
“We have agreed that a Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and No Repetition will be created, and we have reached important accords regarding reparations for the victims,” the communiqué continues.
As for the difficult issue of justice, after 50 years of confrontation and thousands of victims, the two parties agreed on the creation of a Special Jurisdiction for Peace, which will have Halls of Justice and a Peace Court.
“The Halls and Court will be composed mainly of Colombian judges, and will have minority participation from foreigners who meet the highest qualifications. The essential function of the Halls and Peace Court is to end impunity, establish the truth, contribute to the compensation of victims, prosecute and impose sanctions on those responsible for the serious crimes committed during the armed conflict, particularly the most serious and representative, thus guaranteeing that they will not be repeated.”
In this sense, it is expected that international humanitarian law will be respected and that the Colombian government will grant the broadest amnesty possible for political and related offenses.
However, “In all cases, not eligible for amnesty or pardon are acts codified in national legislation which describe crimes again humanity, genocide and serious war crimes, among other serious crimes.”
The Special Jurisdiction for Peace will have authority over all those who directly or indirectly participated in the domestic armed conflict, including the FARC-EP and agents of the state.
Also established is that two types of procedures will exist, one for those who recognize the truth and take responsibility, and another for those who do not, or do not do so in a timely fashion.
“Sanctions imposed by the Court will have as their essential goal guaranteeing the rights of victims and consolidating peace, and they will have a major role in restoration and reparations for harm done.”
The document finally establishes that the transformation of the FARC-EP into a legal political movement is a shared objective, which will be fully supported by the government in the terms agreed upon.