We celebrate President Juan Manuel Santos’ decision to continue the peace negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas. The government should persuade the FARC leadership to pursue a new deal. Potential new negotiations should address the serious shortcomings in the so-called victims’ agreement, which opened the door to impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Among its troubling features, the agreement could allow army generals and FARC commanders to avoid responsibility for crimes committed by their subordinates, allow war criminals to run or hold public office while serving their sentences, and includes modest alternative sanctions (that would look more like mandatory community service than prison sentences) for guerrilla fighters who fully and promptly confess their crimes.
This sacrifice of justice was troubling enough as part of a deal with the FARC, but there is no reason to offer it to military officers responsible for the thousands of “false positive” executions committed by their troops. The best way to avoid this unjustified give-away would be to exclude state agents from the benefits of any transitional justice arrangement agreed to with the FARC. With that in mind, we are deeply concerned that former President Alvaro Uribe’s Democratic Centre, the political party that led the “no” campaign, has requested that a new deal provide “relief” for members of the armed forces responsible for atrocities.