Squaring Colombia’s Circle: The Objectives of Punishment and the Pursuit of Peace

Paul Seils
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This paper weighs the possible modes and competing policy objectives of punishing FARC members for serious crimes in the context of Colombia’s ongoing peace negotiations. It argues that punishment has to occur in a way that does not damage one of the underlying objectives of the peace process, transforming the FARC from an insurgent group into a political actor. According to the paper, to meet policy objectives: 1) trials must be public, accessible, transparent, and serious; 2) punishment should include the possibility of offenders meeting with victims so that they can express their suffering; and 3) measures of punishment should include disagreeable consequences, such as financial penalties, asset seizure, temporary exclusion from political office, and community service orders, as well as reformative measures.