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Colombia: Congress Approves Framework Law for Peace

(June 25, 2012) On June 14, 2012, Colombia's Congress approved a constitutional amendment that provides the legal framework for peace talks with leftist guerrilla groups. This process would give legal benefits to demobilized members of guerrilla and paramilitary groups. (Marco para la Paz Aprobado en Conciliación en Cámara y Senado, EL ESPECTADOR (June 19, 2012).)

The amendment would add a transitoria article 66 to the Constitution that would benefit members of guerrilla forces, by suspending criminal sanctions and giving them the possibility of future political participation, if they abandon armed fighting and if they have not been involved in the perpetration of serious crimes and crimes against humanity, such as genocide. (Congreso de Colombia Aprueba Reforma para Eventual Diálogo Con Guerrilleros, EL UNIVERSAL (June 14, 2012).)

This measure has been firmly opposed by human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch, because they believe that this peace talk process will pave the way to the commission of more acts of impunity and a “disguised amnesty” for members of the guerrilla groups who have committed serious crimes. (Id.)

President Juan Manuel Santos clarified the situation in a press conference, stating that the new provision is not an amnesty and that neither guerrilla leaders nor drug traffickers would benefit from the new peace process or qualify for future participation in politics. In order to qualify for the peace process benefits, a guerrilla group must take action beforehand to free any kidnapped individual, surrender arms, make a true declaration concerning their actions, and provide for reparations for their victims. (Id.)

Previous peace negotiations with guerrillas took place in 1999 and 2002, but there were no positive results. (Id.)