On Thursday, February 18, Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace, set up to prosecute crimes committed during the armed conflict, announced that it was investigating the killing of 6,402 “disappeared” people, far higher than the initial figure of some 2,000 that they had originally received to investigate.
The announcement caused consternation among many supporters of former President Alvaro Uribe, during whose terms as president, most of these alleged extrajudicial killings would have occurred. What has already been established is that military forces during that time killed civilian noncombatants and labeled them as FARC or ELN militants to receive prizes and bounties.
“We welcome the progress in the investigation in Colombia of the so-called ‘false positives’ cases where people were falsely presented as having been ‘killed in combat’,” said UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Liz Throssell in a statement.
At the height of the armed conflict, there were multiple parties in combat with one another, communist rebel insurgents such as the FARC & ELN, paramilitary groups such as the AUC, government forces, and apolitical narcotrafficking mafias, the “cartels.”
“We take this opportunity to recognize the extremely important and legitimate work that victims’ groups and NGOs have carried out to fight impunity in these cases and to obtain justice. Their contribution is essential for the realization of the rights to truth and reparation for victims. We also welcome the Special Jurisdiction’s recent decision to prosecute the former secretariat of the FARC-EP for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the conflict, in particular hostage-taking,” added Throssel.
“The Special Jurisdiction for Peace is taking important steps in the fight against impunity, which will help Colombia to address past serious violations of international law and prevent the recurrence of such violations. We stress once again that accountability for these crimes and the protection of victims’ rights is essential for the consolidation of peace and the strengthening of rule of law in Colombia.”
Above photo: The UN Verification Mission in Colombia (UNVMC), with security and logistical support from the Colombian Armed Forces and help from some members of the FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army), cleared 750 of 998 FARC-EP arms caches. The operation required major logistical planning and effort, involving more than 40,000 kilometers travelled by helicopter, boat, land vehicles and horses. (Photo credit: United Nations / 13 August 2017, Bojayá, Colombia)