ColombiaOne.comColombia newsAmnesty Expunges Records of 9,600 Former FARC Guerrillas in Colombia

Amnesty Expunges Records of 9,600 Former FARC Guerrillas in Colombia


Amnesty FARC Colombia
Colombia’s special peace court orders 9,600 former FARC guerrillas to be cleared of crimes under presidential amnesty – Credit: / @JEP_Colombia

The Colombian justice system has ordered the expungement of the criminal records of 9,600 former guerrillas of the extinct FARC in application of the amnesty. This was ordered by the court called the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), the transitional justice mechanism created by the Colombian state in 2017 following the peace agreements with the FARC. Transitional justice is a set of judicial and political measures used as reparations for massive human rights violations following a conflict.

The JEP was created to judge, under these premises, the crimes of the extinct FARC, just as in 2006 the Justice and Peace Law did the same with the demobilized paramilitaries of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).

This type of justice is based on the legal principle of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition and is customary for overcoming internal armed conflicts or processes of political transition from dictatorships to democracies. In the specific case of former FARC guerrillas, the pardon measure only applies to “political crimes” committed by former combatants who received amnesties during the government of President Santos (2010-2018).

Amnesty application in Colombia

In this way, the Amnesty or Pardon Chamber of the JEP ordered the National Police, other Colombian police bodies and Interpol to eliminate the judicial records of 9,600 peace signatories of the extinct FARC who received amnesties through the Presidential decree, for political crimes committed during the armed conflict.

The objective of these amnesties is to “guarantee their reincorporation in an effective manner,” according to the transitional tribunal’s report. Likewise, “the peace signatories who received these amnesties, in compliance with the Peace Agreement, are not linked to war crimes and crimes against humanity,” the JEP communiqué clarified.

The decision is important and comes shortly after the unease expressed by the former FARC leadership, when it claimed a couple of months ago that the JEP caused “serious alterations” to the peace agreement. At that time, members of the last FARC leadership, all of whom are now members of the legal party Comunes, sent a letter to Colombian President Gustavo Petro in which they expressed their annoyance at the “endless opening of macro-cases,” which distances the idea of closing the cases to be investigated.

This, the letter assured the head of state, “seriously violates the legal security of the participants” and may cause delays in complying with the timeframe for which the JEP was designed.

The Peace Agreement with the Colombian State

A total of 13,609 FARC members joined the Peace Agreement signed with the Colombian State in 2016. Ninety-five percent of them are now moving towards reincorporation into civilian life, after years, in some cases decades, of illegal armed activity.

Of that total, 9,600 people now have clean criminal records, which will help them in their social reintegration. In fact, this was the argument put forward by the JEP to order the expungement of their records, since the permanence of their names in the judicial records “affects their freedom, good name and habeas data”, hindering their “labor, family and social stability”.

With this, the JEP recalls that the extinct FARC guerrillas have received 9,600 amnesties granted by nine presidential decrees, 1,409 by the ordinary justice system between the signing of the 2016 Peace Agreement and the beginning of the operation of the JEP, one year later, and 600 by the Amnesty or Pardon Chamber. This adds up to a total of 11,609 persons granted amnesty.

Of that total, the 9,600 who received amnesties by presidential decree during the government of President Santos are the ones who will have their criminal record expunged. All of them are former guerrillas who had cases for political crimes such as rebellion, sedition and assault.

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