The United States Peace Council (USPC) calls on the Colombian government to uphold the peace agreement that it signed with the FARC-EP and to stop the move towards war and implementation of more repressive political measures.
Since signing the peace agreement, in November of 2016, the Colombian government has failed to meet its obligations under this agreement, and the US Peace Council notes with alarm that it now appears that this government is actually planning for further war and social conflict, rather than working for peace.
Pursuant to the long-negotiated peace agreement, the Colombian government agreed to carry out many reforms that would benefit Colombian Society. These reforms included the promise
to forego the use of force for political ends,
to stop the use of the poisonous weed killer glyphosate to eradicate sources of drugs,
to invest in infrastructure in the countryside including a system to assist campesinos to gain title to their land,
to invest in projects designed to assist the reincorporation into civilian life of former guerilla combatants,
to release political prisoners and prisoners of war as part of the transitional justice system called the Special Peace Jurisdiction (JEP),
to take responsibility and to be held accountable for its own violation of international humanitarian law and human rights law and
to protect members of the opposition, among other promises. The USPC notes with alarm that there have been attacks on Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities to have state protection while the authors of the attacks have not been held to account.
It is widely accepted that the Colombian government has only completed 30% of their responsibilities under the peace agreement. The Colombian government continues to use glyphosate in drug eradication endangering the environment and the lives of its rural inhabitants. The Colombian government has failed to invest in needed community-oriented infrastructure in the countryside. The Colombian government has failed to protect leaders of the opposition with approximately 700 hundred social leaders and 135 former guerilla combatants assassinated since the signing of the peace agreement. There are still over 500 political prisoners languishing in prison who have not been granted conditional release as part of the Special Peace Jurisdiction as called for in the peace agreement.
One of the most concerning issues is described in a recent article in the New York Times detailing from the highest echelons of the Colombian Military to increase the killing of the opposition and “‘criminals,” (“Colombia Army’s New Kill Orders Send Chills Down Ranks”, by Nick Casey, May 18, 2019). “The head of Colombia’s army, frustrated by the nation’s faltering efforts to secure peace, has ordered his troops to double the number of criminals and militants they kill, capture or force to surrender in battle” stated the New York Times. If these orders are to be put in effect, it breaks the promise to renounce the use of force for political ends and marks a move towards intensified social conflict and war.
This chilling order reminds one of the “false positive” policy in effect under the government of former president Alvaro Uribe. The military were given monetary and other incentives to increase their body count. This resulted in over 3,000 additional deaths including innocent civilians who were assassinated and then dressed up in military fatigues to increase body counts. These assassinations are considered extra-judicial killings, and are international crimes under the Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law.
The USPC is concerned that Colombia is on the precipice of renewed conflict. The peace agreement of 2016 was a brave attempt to end 54 years of civil war. The USPC calls on the Colombian government , and its ally the US Government, to being immediately to fulfill its obligations under the peace agreement, including the protection of human rights, and to recommit to working for peace.