Friday, July 19, 2024

Colombia’s Former FARC Accept Responsibility For Kidnappings

Leaders from the now-demobilized FARC rebels on Friday accepted responsibility for tens of thousands of kidnappings during their group’s part in Colombia’s long internal conflict.

At least 13,000 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were demobilized under a 2016 peace deal with the government with the group becoming a political party called Comunes.

Comunes official Carlos Antonio Lozada told a virtual news conference that FARC clearly assumes responsibility for kidnappings which took place and recognizes the suffering inflicted unjustifiably on victims.

Lozada who serves in the senate in a seat guaranteed by the peace deal, said Hostages suffered “precarious and difficult” conditions, and that some victims suffered sexual violence at the hands of FARC captors.

It was official FARC policy to take hostages in order to raise funds through ransom, pressure the government to conduct hostage exchanges, control territory and gain advantages by capturing security force members.

The comments came as the group turned in an official response to the JEP, which in January accused eight FARC leaders of responsibility for war crimes connected to kidnappings.

Under the accord, former rebels must provide information to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) tribunal about crimes committed during the conflict, including murders, kidnappings, sexual violence and forced evictions.

Former rebels who give full information about crimes to the tribunal may eventually face restrictions on their freedom for five to eight years.

Those who do not or who lie could be sentenced for up to 20 years in prison.

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