Havana, Cuba, site of the Peace Talks, September 23, 2015
Compatriots and friends of peace in Colombia:
We bring you today, in addition to our fraternal embrace, a report of collective victory: we achieved, with the invaluable help of the Legal Subcommission, to remove many of the obstacles that were making the path of our reconciliation more difficult. We now have a special jurisdiction for peace that, besides ensuring respect for the rights of victims, will be a dynamic factor in the signing of new agreements in this crucial final stretch to reach the end of the conflict.
The current peace process is the only one in the world that has agreed a comprehensive system, which gathers and connects all the elements that are considered by international law as inalienable rights of victims: Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition.
We hope that now nothing can stop the flood of a people demanding peace and desiring to merge forever in an embrace of reconciliation; people, who want to feel the unknown benefits of social justice in their own flesh, and feel, with the advent of true democracy, that exclusion and inequality are beginning to be left behind.
With the creation of this special jurisdiction for Peace, we are making a reality what was being reiterated at the Conversation Table regarding the victims of the conflict being at the center of the agreement; the jurisdiction we are talking about will examine the events that occurred during the armed conflict, it will establish responsibilities and punish those involved in serious human rights violations, violations of international humanitarian law and crimes against humanity.
With the creation of this special jurisdiction for peace, we have sought to satisfy the aspirations of the Colombian people, victims, human rights defenders and the international community regarding justice. The two parties at the peace talks have sought to combine the right to peace as a right synthesis of all human rights -civil, political, economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights-, with the struggle against impunity that has affected Colombia for decades and has allowed the attacks against the people to go unpunished, which is another impediment to peace.
The system is designed so that all parts involved in the conflict – combatants and non-combatants, have the opportunity to provide comprehensive, detailed and full Truth, which can allow them to access to punitive measures of restorative nature, of reparation for the victims. And there will be an alternative punishment for those who only offer a part of the truth, and retributive for those who refuse to provide truth and are convicted at trial. In either case, for those who bear responsibility, the sentences can reach up to 20 years in prison; e.g. 12 years more of imprisonment than established in the last law of transitional justice, 975 of 2005, approved by the Colombian State.
The agreements are respectful of international law, they provide for the application of Article 6.5 of Protocol II of the Geneva Conventions, of which Colombia is part and which provides: “A cessation of hostilities, the authorities in power shall endeavor to grant the broadest possible amnesty to persons who have taken part in the armed conflict or who are deprived of freedom, detained or interned for reasons related to the armed conflict”. It is obvious then, that a crime which is considered an international crime under international law and treaties, won’t receive amnesty.
In addition to the justice component, the system consists of a Commission of Clarification of the Truth, already agreed, of policies for victim’s reparation, and of measures to guarantee non-repetition. The FARC-EP has already offered such guarantees when we make the decision to agree the abandonment of arms and become a legal organization. For its part, the State shall provide effective measures of non-repetition, like removing any vestige of the National Security Doctrine, disposing the Army to defend the borders and national sovereignty, the destination of the police to maintain public order, and the eradication of the phenomenon of paramilitarism.
The special jurisdiction for peace has a judicial mechanism to offer truth and responsibilities recognition of a voluntary nature, and a Peace Court to judge those who refuse to provide truth and recognize responsibilities.
We should emphasize that although we have paid a high cost for rebelling against injustice; although our family and friends have also suffered the consequences of repression, putting even their lives in danger, as insurgents, we are willing to take responsibility for our actions during the period of resistance, but we will never recognize everything that our adversaries want to impute us without any fundament or judgement. The latest report of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Colombia shows that the insurgency has been pursued relentlessly, through different kinds of policies and procedures; it haven’t been guerrilla organizations that have enjoyed impunity, but State agents and paramilitary groups.
We think, then, that the other actors of the conflict, both those who fought and those who have instigated the war from luxurious offices, should bravely assume their responsibility and declare so before the Colombian people, without sparing a grain of truth. We owe it to the Colombian people, and most of all, it is our duty with future generations, so that no one will ever suffer again like we did. Therefore we think it is necessary to organize a great day of contrition during which the universe of people involved in the conflict -combatants and non-combatants- will get together, to clean consciences, offer truth, and take responsibility.
The special jurisdiction of peace that we have created should inspire us to look forward, to agree on the future of our country and stop confronting each other because of the past. It should be a step to help promote the great social and political changes that must come from the peace agreement that we are determined to achieve, because we cannot allow -like has happened in previous dialogue attempts that occurred in our country-, or in other parts of world, for the structural changes, which serve as the best guarantee of non-repetition of what happened, not to be carried out.
Today, we announce to the country that we will do everything in our power to achieve in a few months the final peace agreement, and we urge our counterpart at the Table to do the same, to raise our voices and say “Never Again”, on the foundations of the Truth, justice and reparation, as an immense Andean cliff, able to stop the armed conflict between Colombians forever and promote harmony in Our America.
We can only express our gratitude for the dedication and professionalism of jurists Manuel José Cepeda, Alvaro Leyva Durán, Juan Carlos Henao, Enrique Santiago, Douglas Cassel, and Diego Martínez.
Thanks to President Raúl Castro, comandante Fidel and the Cuban people for their solidarity and altruism.
Thanks to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for its unconditional support for peace in Colombia.
Thanks to the dialogues’ guarantor countries Norway and Cuba, and thanks to Chile for its accompaniment.
“Who sows love, will harvest love; and who sows love, love will obtain”.
Coinciding with Pope Francisco, we must insist that: There is no right to fail again on this path of peace and reconciliation.”
This victory cannot be taken away from the people of Colombia.
Secretariat of the Central High Command of the FARC-EP
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