LATIN AMERICA

Colombia and FARC reach deal on helping victims of decades-old conflict

Government and guerrilla group seal agreement on one of most delicate issues in peace talks

FARC victims attend a ceremony in Bojayá, Chocó, Colombia, where the guerrilla rebels publicly asked for forgiveness on December 5.
FARC victims attend a ceremony in Bojayá, Chocó, Colombia, where the guerrilla rebels publicly asked for forgiveness on December 5.EFE

The Colombian government and members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have reached an agreement over the rights of victims of the more than 50-year-old armed conflict between the two sides – one of the most delicate parts of the ongoing peace talks in Havana.  

Details of the agreement are due to be announced on Tuesday in the Cuban capital during a ceremony in which 10 war victims are expected to take part.

Agreeing compensation and justice for the victims has been one of the most complex issues in the talks

Agreeing compensation and justice for the victims on both sides of the conflict has been one of the most complex issues taken up in the three years of talks between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas.

The insurgency has claimed the lives of an estimated 220,000 people, according to human rights groups.

So far, the two sides have already achieved agreements over land reform and rural development, political participation for the guerrilla front once it disbands, and drug trafficking.

The talks, which are being mediated by Cuba and several other countries, have progressed slowly. But President Juan Manuel Santos has said that he hopes to have a final agreement signed by early next year.

On September 23, Santos met FARC leader Rodrigo Timochenko Londoño in Havana after negotiators came up with a deal on another key issue: transitional justice.

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Under that agreement, the government and the rebels will create a post-conflict international justice tribunal that will sentence those who accept responsibility, including members of the insurgency, military officers, politicians, civilians and others who played roles in the war.

The negotiations over the details of the final transitional justice document had over the past few weeks been a major obstacle to hammering out a deal regarding the victims. Both sides have had differences with certain issues including “the special conditions” afforded to those imprisoned for committing human rights abuses and the selection of the judges who will serve on the tribunal.

“We have satisfactorily reached a deal in the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and partial agreement on Point 5: the VICTIMS,” FARC member Luciano Marín Arango, known as Iván Márquez, wrote on Twitter on Monday.

The FARC is counting the victims as a separate point from the transitional justice issue on its agenda.

English version by Martin Delfín.