Colombia: 1,500 civilians to face war-related charges

Colombian prosecutors will seek to charge some 1,500 civilians with conflict-related crimes allegedly committed by guerilla groups like the FARC, which is currently negotiating peace with the government. The civilians are all suspected of having either ordered or taken part in crimes like homicide, kidnapping, extortion and forced displacement carried out by  leftist guerilla groups during Colombia’s more than 50-year-long armed conflict. Vice-Prosecutor General Jorge Fernando Perdomo said the civilians were incriminated by demobilized guerrillas of the FARC, ELN, EPL, ERG and ERP. In total, the transitional justice tribunal that will be put in place if peace is reached between the FARC and the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos will prosecute tens of thousands of people allegedly involved in war crimes or crimes related to the conflict.

The country's reintegration agency said last year it expected some 20,000 FARC guerillas and logistical supporters to demobilize. All demobilizing rebels and rebel collaborators will have to appear before the tribunal, initially to check if they can request amnesty or are accused of war crimes. Local media have since reported that the number of demobilizing FARC fighters and FARC support network members could rise to 40,000, more than the approximately 30,000 who demobilized from the right-wing paramilitary AUC between 2003 and 2006. The vice-prosecutor general earlier announced that some 24,400 state officials would also have to appear before the transitional justice tribunal.

The tens of thousands of guerrillas, members of the military, politicians and civilians implicated in war crimes or conflict-related crimes will have to appear before a Peace Tribunal, a temporary court that will seek justice for the more than 7 million victims of the armed conflict, at least 260,000 of whom were killed. (Colombia Reports, Jan. 8)