Amnesty: the major stumbling block to Colombia’s peace process

07 April 2015 by Louisa Reynolds

Almost two-and-a-half years after the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) began peace talks in Havana, key agreements have been reached on land reform, political participation and drug trafficking.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who recently rejected the idea of granting the FARC total amnesty (Photo: Flickr/globovision)
Image caption: 
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who recently rejected the idea of granting the FARC total amnesty (Photo: Flickr/globovision)

However, the issue of amnesty remains a major stumbling block. It has left Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos with the tricky task of appeasing those who oppose any concessions to the FARC while also taking care not to derail the peace process. At the same time, he is constrained by the International Criminal Court, which his country joined in 2002 and which grants The Hague court partial jurisdiction over the types of crimes potentially covered in an amnesty deal.

Achievements

In an attempt to end over five decades of conflict that pitted left-wing rebels against government troops and right-wing paramilitaries, the two sides have followed a chapter-by-chapter approach to negotiations, with Cuba and Norway acting as mediators.

Observers say participation by key FARC commanders, such as Pastor Alape and Pablo Catatumbo, and rebels, such as Romana – allegedly behind the strategy of mass kidnappings – shows that the movement is united behind the peace process and bodes well for successful negotiations.

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