Colombian truth commission calls for security reform
(June 29, 2022)
Colombia’s security model played a significant role in the country’s long, violent internal conflict, according to a truth commission report released yesterday that calls for sweeping military and police reform.
The report, produced by a commission that was formed as part of a historic 2016 peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), delivered a scathing rebuke of the Colombia’s drug policy in recent decades, and emphasized the harmful effects of U.S. collaboration with Colombia’s security forces. (New York Times)
The more than 1000-pages report has been developed over four years and involved more than 14,000 individual and collective interviews. This is the first installment, and focuses on recommendations to avoid repetition of the decades-long armed conflict in Colombia, reports La Silla Vacía.
The final report, which will be released in installments in coming weeks, is envisioned as the most detailed account yet of the atrocities committed by all sides in the country’s 52-year civil conflict, the longest-running in the hemisphere. (Washington Post)
The commission found that “the union of the interests of United States and Colombia led to the construction of Plan Colombia”, a massive multibillion-dollar military aid program that began in 2000, “which merged together the counter-insurgency, anti-terrorist and anti-narcotics programmes with the war against narco-terrorism.” (Guardian)
“The consequences of this concerted and largely U.S.-driven approach,” the report said, led to a “hardening of the conflict in which the civilian population has been the main victim.”
The report, titled “There is a future if there is truth,” urges a substantial change in Colombia’s drug policy, and a transition towards regulation of drug markets. Other recommendations included advancing peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN), tackling corruption and guaranteeing quality of life and dignity for all communities. (Reuters)
Broadly, the recommendations focus on eight topics: construction of peace as a national project; victims; political system and participation; drug trafficking; impunity; security; territorial peace; culture for peace and education. (La Silla Vacía)
The recommendations are in line with many of president-elect Gustavo Petro’s campaign commitments. Petro, as well as vice president-elect Francia Márquez, attended yesterday’s presentation.
Petro spoke yesterday, his first speech since winning the presidency earlier this month, and advocated for a “big peace,” focused on the structural causes of violence that continues to plague parts of Colombia. (La Silla Vacía)
President Iván Duque, who critics have accused of slow-walking key clauses of the deal, was absent at yesterday’s presentation.
From 1985 to 2018, 450,664 people were killed in the conflict, according to the truth commission, while 55,770 were kidnapped between 1990 and 2018. More than 7.7 million people were displaced from 1985 to 2019 and 121,768 were disappeared between 1985 and 2016, it added.
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