A book-length review of FARC compliance with its peace accord commitments, by the ex-guerrillas’ representatives to the joint verification commission CSIVI.
On March 16, the Cooperation Space for Peace (Espacio de Cooperación para la Paz – ECP) published a statement, signed by 17 international civil society organizations, urging the Colombian government to guarantee protections for social leaders throughout the country.
Social leaders are vital to the communities they represent. The statement argues that in its process of consolidating peace, Colombia cannot tolerate violence against leaders who work in their communities to improve living conditions and protect natural resources.
The statement calls on the Colombian government to provide adequate safety guarantees, ensure justice is enforced, and implement policies that dismantle the criminal groups responsible for the bloodshed against social leaders and their communities. Below is the English text of the statement:
STATEMENT TO THE PUBLIC AND A CALL TO THE COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT INTERNATIONAL CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS
Bogotá, March 16, 2020. The international civil society organizations signed onto this statement express with deep pain and concern the persistence and increase of threats, attacks, harassment, and murders against individuals and human rights organizations who endorse the peace agreement and, in the process of reincorporation, move from a past of war to a future of reconciliation and peace.
In the past week, Astrid Conde Gutiérrez (March 5) and Edwin de Jesús Carrascal Barrios (March 10) were assassinated. Thus far, according to the FARC’s political party, these killings amount to 15 former combatants of the FARC killed since the beginning of this year and 190 former combatants killed since the signing of the Peace Accords in 2016. Additionally, the corporation Legal Solidarity (Solidaridad Jurídica) has also reported threats and harassment against other former political prisoners.
On March 11, a new threat from the Black Eagles (Águilas Negras) against an extensive list of lead social organizations and social leaders became public. It included the Wayuu Women’s Force (Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu)—a human and territorial rights organization that won the 2017 National Human Rights Defense Award and has been working for ethnic and territorial rights in La Guajira since 2006.
The lack of protections for social leaders and the lack of comprehensive implementation of the Peace Agreement put the sustainability of the process and the search for new paths towards peace in Colombia at serious risk. Thus, it is urgent for the State, who is responsible for the life of all Colombians, to:
- Provide sufficient guarantees for those who actively work towards peace and defend human and territorial rights so they can carry out their legitimate work in an enabling environment.
- Ensure that justice is enforced and that those responsible are identified, investigated, and brought before competent authorities. In doing so, a strong message in favor of peace would be expressed through Colombia’s institutions, currently governed by Iván Duque.
- Rapidly advance the design and adoption of public policies to dismantle criminal organizations that are responsible for killings and massacres or attacks on human rights defenders, social movements, or political movements. Such criminal organizations include paramilitary groups, successor groups, and their support networks (3.4.3 of the Peace Agreement). Civil society organizations have already submitted proposals about this matter.
The international civil society organizations signed onto this statement and members of the Cooperation Space for Peace (Espacio de Cooperación para la Paz) reiterate concern about these incidents and the lack of strong action by the Colombian State to clarify and finally stop this bloodshed in Colombia.
A country that genuinely aims to consolidate peace cannot tolerate violence against citizens of any kind, particularly against those in civil society who work to improve living conditions and protect territories and natural resources.
Alarmed by the deteriorating human rights situation and the return of violence to rural Colombia, 23 International Civil Society Organizations released a public statement demanding action from the Colombian government. With over 40 years of experience working on peace-building in Colombia, the organizations condemn the government’s delays and reneging on peace accord implementation, attacks to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz, JEP), and violence against social leaders and human rights defenders. The article makes reference to the recent New York Times’ article exposing military directives demanding increased body counts, the murder of former FARC combatant Dimar Torres on April 22, and the 62 social leaders murdered so far in 2019.
The May 30 statement demands Duque sign the JEP’s statutory law and abstain from promoting members of the military who have links to extrajudicial killings. On June 6, the president signed the law as asked and the Senate voted in favor of promoting General Nicasio Martínez despite the objections of human rights organizations. The statement also calls for the investigation of the murders and attacks on social leaders, the extended presence of the UN Verification Mission and renewal of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights among other requests.
Here is the full statement translated into English:
International Civil Society Organizations Express their Serious Concern for the Grave Humanitarian and Human Rights Crisis in Colombia Jeopardizing the Sustainability of the Peace Accord
The International Civil Society Organizations signatory of this statement, in reference to our mandates, have been committed to the respect for human dignity, the guarantee of rights, the construction of peace, and the negotiated termination of the Colombian armed conflict for over 40 years.
We recognize the importance of the agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP guerilla signed on November 2016, as well as the dialogues with the ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional), now sadly stagnant due to lack of political will.
The reneging and delays on the commitments made in the Final Agreement (FA), the permanent attacks against the Integral System for Truth, Justice, Reparations, and no Repetition (Sistema Integral de Verdad, Justicia, Reparación y no Repetición, SIVJR) – particularly towards the decisions of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz, JEP), place the lives and lawfulness of those participating under this jurisdiction at risk, including members of the FARC.
This along with the murders, threats, intimidations, and stigmatizations against human rights defenders, environmentalists, and persons participating in voluntary illicit-use crop substitution, place the possibility to consolidate peace under serious threat.
According to the Center for Research and Education’s Program for Peace (Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular, CINEP), their 2018 category for political violence reports 648 murders, 1151 death threats, 304 injured, 48 attacks, 22 forced disappearances, three cases of sexual assaults, and 243 arbitrary detentions. So far, 62 social leaders have been murdered in 2019.
The annual report of the We Are Defenders Program (Programa Somos Defensores), published this year on April, states that in 2018 there were 16 women human rights defenders murdered, surpassing the murder rate of male human rights defenders.
The New York Times recently exposed a military directive that could bring back the infamous “false positives” within the Colombian Armed Forces, as seen in the case of demobilized FARC-EP member Dimar Torres, who was murdered by an active member of the military on April 22, 2019. Dimar’s murder in the Colombian northeast was confirmed as a military killing by general Diego Luis Villegas.
The government’s response to these reports is worrying. Among these are the Defense Minister’s recent statement denying the existence of said directive, and the inflammatory remarks made by a government party congresswoman, which forced the article’s author and photographer to leave the country.
The Colombian government has the obligation to guarantee Human Rights, honor the commitments made in the peace accords with the FARC-EP, and respond effectively to protect the life and dignity of those who are put at great risk for advancing peace and Human Rights.
Thus, we demand the Colombian government to:
- Order government officials to abstain from making speeches that stigmatize those who defend peace and Human Rights, as well as civilians.
- Order the respective authorities to carry out investigations and sanctions towards the material and intellectual authors of the murders, attacks, and threats against Human Rights defenders and FARC-EP leaders who seek reintegration into civilian life.
- Ratify the statutory law of the JEP and comply with its decisions. In this regard, investigate the facts surrounding the recapture of Mr. Seuxis Paucias Hernández, establish its legality, the truth about his situation, and guarantee him his right to due process.
- Abstain from promoting high ranking members of the military that have been admitted to the JEP, or have open judicial cases, as a measure to guarantee non-repetition to the victims of conflict.
- To the President, as commander in chief of the military, that he ensure that all orders, manuals, and operational documents of the military comply with national and international law as well as Human Rights and International Human Rights Law.
- Extend the presence of the UN Verification Mission and renew the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as recognition to the work of the international community on Human Rights.
- Guarantee the right to information by protecting free and independent journalism.
We request that the diplomatic apparatus, international community, and guarantor countries of the peace process demand the Colombian government honors the Final Agreement and takes the necessary measures so that its implementation is not bloodier than the conflict it aims to overcome.
As civil society organizations, we reiterate our compromise to the construction of complete peace in Colombia and we will keep on working alongside victims, rural communities, persons on transit to civilian life, and the Colombian civil society at large.