(Translated by Gerry Millrine, CSN Volunteer Translator- Edited by Shanise Faust)
OPEN LETTER TO HIS HONOR, THE PRESIDENT OF COLOMBIA, SR. JUAN MANUEL SANTOS, SR. RODRIGO LONDOÑO, LEADER OF THE FARC- EP, NICOLÁS RODRÍGUEZ, CHIEF OF ELN AND THE SOCIETY OF COLOMBIA
The organizations, signatories of this document, with regard to those the consultations which are taking place to introduce certain changes to the Final Agreement of Peace, signed this last 26th of September, by both the government and FASRCV-EP, wish to express our support for the Havana Agreement, in particular, that which has been agreed to with regard to The Rights of the Victims.
Our position is that, the Agreement which has been reached, contains the minimum which allows progress to be made in overcoming any impunity from the most serious crimes committed, directly or indirectly, in the course of the armed conflict in Colombia. We wish to highlight the constructive and positive attitude with which the government, FARCEP, and society in general, as shown by its widespread support, who have taken on board the situation and we hope that, soon, we can move quickly to the implementation of the Agreement.
With this positive approach, we wish to give public expression to and raise the following aspects related to the Transitional Justice, given expression to, in the Agreement and which were the object of distortion in terms of its content and scope.
- The Agreement allows for ALL those who have committed crimes, within the setting of the armed conflict, to give account of their actions before the law. The judicial system which has been agreed to, allows headway to be made in in overcoming the structural impunity from those crimes, committed by the State, against certain sectors or those organized sectors of social movement and human rights, whose victims have been campesinos, indigenous communities, those of African descendent, members of social organizations, trade unionists, both male and female defenders of human rights, journalists and political opponents.
- The Agreement places at its center, the rights of the victims to truth, justice, reparation and the guarantee that these crimes shall never be repeated. Acknowledging and showing respect for these rights is the basic requirement in imposing any sanctions on those responsible for crimes committed during the conflict, whether they be of the military, guerrillas, or civilians involved with either of these.
- The incorporation of both judicial and extrajudicial procedures within the model of the anticipated intermediate justice system will allow not only for the bringing to justice of those charged with serious crimes, but will also contribute to the clarification of the history of what has actually taken place, by means of the Truth Commission, in order for all citizens and future generations to come to know what has taken place- its causes, those who are responsible with the essential element that these deeds may never be repeated. The procedure whereby those “disappeared” as victims of the conflict, will allow families to be made aware of of the fate and the whereabouts of their loved ones. It is thought that there are more than 70,000 who have been “disappeared,” of whom, 40,000 appear in the Exclusive Register of the Victims, registered as “disappeared” forcibly for political motives.
- The Intermediate Justice system created by the Agreement is short-term, with limited powers and independent of ordinary justice and as such, does not dissolve those of ordinary legal system.
- The summons of all of those involved in serious crimes, guarantees that the Intermediate Justice system will function within a setting of equality, whether with regard to agents of the state, guerrillas, civilians- each of whom will have the possibility gaining benefit from any truth admitted to, likewise the gravity of the deed, the level of participation and responsibility and the fulfilling of any reparations to both individual and collective victims.
- Those sanctions which restrict freedoms, imply the carrying out work and activities in rural areas, which amongst others, are the complete removal of supplies of ammunition and war material and which allow for the advancement of collective actions of reparation; the restoration of damage or hurt to the victims and all members of society, which would not be possible in the case of custodial sentences, confinement in either police or military units or being held in agricultural farms. The above does not exclude the possibility of imposing penalties of prison sentences, ranging from 15 to 20 years, for those who do not admit to the truth and who will be dealt with by the due process and legal guarantees.
- The ordinary legal system and the “Law of Justice and Peace” have shown themselves unable to advance the implementing of the rights of the victims and the overcoming of impunity. After almost ten years since the law was implemented, only 46 sentences have been imposed and 98% of crimes have benefited from impunity.
- The participation of judges and members of international commissions, creates confidence in the system. The incorporation of an international element, with suitable personnel taking part in the working of the agreed Intermediate System, will not only bring with it, the incorporation of better international practice, but will also be a factor in the confidence and legitimacy at international level, which will thereby afford legal security to those who will take part in the process. On the foundations of the above, and starting from a positive and constructive understanding of the Agreement, we call for the following to be enabled:
That both The international law of Human Rights and International Humanitarian law be the legal reference points to be applied with regard to all of those who took part in crimes of a serious nature in terms of the conflict- be they military personnel, guerrillas, or civilians. In agreement with national and international law, the actions committed by state personnel are much more serious than those carried out by the insurgents, in that the former were entrusted with the legitimate use of arms in order to guarantee basic rights and to protect civilians.
Therefore, any legal benefits conceded to state personnel linked to the serious violations of Human Rights and infractions of International Humanitarian Law, should have as a forgone condition, their absolute compliance with the truth, reparation and the commitment not to repeat those crimes which they have committed.
The application of remedial sanctions should be carried out with the opinion of the victims being taken into account. The Agreement, gives privileged access to the Truth and Comprehensive Reparation before the application of punitive sanctions or procedures of restorative justice. In order for these measures to be accepted by society, there should be consultation with the victims and those communities who have been affected by the above.
Within the framework of the processes of dialogue, it is fundamental to adopt a series of reforms within the Policies of State Security, especially with regard to Doctrine of National Security, as a guarantee that this situation shall not be repeated. Said reform, in addition to looking at the previous history of public service personnel, should take into account the reform and transformation of the permanence of staff; the organization of state archives and the preservation of the same for the sake of truth and memory; the reduction of the Armed Forces and the reform of the National Police. The Coordination of Colombia – Europe – United States, the National Movement of Victims of State Crimes, The Colombia forum of Human Rights Democracy and Development, Communities Building peace in the Territories, the Inter-Church Dialogue for Peace, the Coalition of Social Movements and Organizations of Colombia and the Ecumenical Committee for Peace – all call upon the various sectors of Colombian society to support these commitments; to study the intermediate justice system, as we look towards the future, allowing new initiatives to move forward in the overcoming of impunity, as a necessary condition of reconciliation.
We greet with joy the announcement of the establishing of the public phase of the dialogue between the National Government and the Army of National Liberation -ELN and we wish to indicate before, our willingness to take an active part in those scenarios which will come about from this dialogue.
We hope that this new, promising process which has begun, will take up those previously agreed upon advances, regarding the the rights of the victims and which will strengthen those aspects which will overcome impunity and leading to the making of the rights of the victims and progress much more the terms of guarantees that there will no repetition of what has happened before. Finally, we wish to express our commitment and readiness to implement the Agreement in the regions and to contribute to their clear understanding.
October 20th, 2016
Coordinación Colombia – Europa- Estados Unidos (CCEEU)
Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado (MOVICE)
Mesa Ecuménica por la Paz
Comunidades Construyendo Paz en los Territorios (CONPAZ)
Diálogo Intereclesial por la Paz (DiPaz)
Plataforma Colombiana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo
Coalición de Movimientos y Organizaciones Sociales de Colombia (COMOSOC)
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