ICTJ Welcomes Historic Agreement to Create Truth Commission in Colombia

6/11/2015

BOGOTA, June 11, 2015 — The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) welcomes the agreement reached between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group to create a truth commission, after a peace agreement is signed. It is an important step forward in the negotiations that can benefit Colombian society as a whole.

ICTJ believes that the creation of the commission provides an important opportunity for Colombian society to deepen its knowledge and reflect on what happened during the armed conflict, its causes and consequences, as well as the political and collective responsibilities for the pain and loss suffered by millions of Colombians.

“It is a historic agreement that affirms a commitment to unearth the truth, no matter how painful, and puts victims at the very center of the process,” says David Tolbert, president of ICTJ. “Creating a truth commission is an important and necessary step towards ensuring accountability in Colombia and affirming victims’ dignity.”

The government and the FARC have recognized that the commission is not the only measure that is relevant to guaranteeing victims’ rights. ICTJ will continue to encourage broad debate and offer relevant experience on the definition of future complementary systems to pursue truth, justice, reparations, and non-recurrence.

Throughout Colombia’s armed conflict, enforced disappearance was used as a weapon of war by all armed groups to exert power and control over the civilian population. ICTJ applauds the commitment to continue ongoing efforts to locate and identify remains and to create a special mechanism dedicated solely to investigating this serious crime, which will work in coordination with the commission. This will hopefully inject much needed energy into clarifying this aspect of the conflict that remains under investigated, and providing some possibility of closure to family members.

While the proposed mandate is very ambitious, and some areas will require clarification, the agreement provides a significant foundation for an autonomous and independent commission. It represents an important first step toward ensuring that the commission has the necessary space to interpret the scope of its mandate, set its priorities, and establish and reveal its findings, to meet the needs and expectations of victims and society.

“In order to have any real value for society, a truth commission must work as an independent entity, completely removed from the parties it investigates,” explains Maria Camila Moreno, head of ICTJ’s office in Colombia. “The selection of commissioners, based on their integrity and proven commitment to human rights, will be essential to ensuring the necessary independence of the commission.”

“For the commission to succeed, Colombian society as a whole will need to commit to the mandate and actively participate in the truth-seeking exercise,” adds Moreno. “Victims’ groups, civil society, the media, and anyone who want to see real social change will need to be involved in the process.”

Contact

Maria Camila Moreno, Head of Office in Colombia, ICTJ
E-mail: mcmoreno@ictj.org
Tel: +57 1 248 0488


PHOTO: Joint report of the talks between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People's Army, June 4, 2015. (Presidencia de la República - Colombia/YouTube)