FARC and Colombian government meetings to begin again next week

World Today

Colombia’s government and the FARC rebel group recently agreed to resume peace talks that had been suspended after the abduction and ultimate release of five hostages including an army general. CCTV America’s Michelle Begue reported this story from Bogota.

FARC and Colombian govt meetings could re-start next week

Despite renewed signs of progress, a leading human rights group says Colombia still has a lot of wrongs to make right. Colombia's government and the FARC rebel group recently agreed to resume peace talks. They were suspended after the abduction and release of five hostages including an army general. CCTV America's Michelle Begue reported this story from Bogota.

Officials from Cuba and Norway, the designated guarantors of Colombia’s peace negotiations announced the resumption of peace talks, just a few days after the Colombian rebel group FARC released General Ruben Dario Alzate and others. The next conversations will take place between December 10-17.

Jose Luis Ponce, the Cuban official and guarantor, said the talks will help to advance de-escalation of the conflict and “reach an agreement as soon as possible in this matter.”

The international organization Human Rights Watch congratulated all the parties involved for overcoming the impasse, but expressed concern that atrocities are continuing in Colombia.

“They continue recruiting minors, building land mines, kidnapping, committing rape and sexual violations against the civilian population,” Jose Miguel Vivanco from Human Rights Watch said of FARC.

However their criticism also extended to the Colombia government. The director of Colombia’s Human Rights Watch warned the military may escape punishment for its role in executing dozens of young men in 2008. The killings, which were falsely presented by the military as guerrillas killed in combat, came to be known as “false positives”.

Colombia’s government is considering legislation that would transfer more than 3,000 cases of military personnel accused of killing civilians to the military justice system. Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon denies the legislation will include false positive cases. Human Rights Watch says most of the cases could pass as aggravated homicide.

“The attorney general’s office has 3,000 investigations of false postives with 4,300 victims. Are all those cases false positives according to the Defense Minister? Or not? I believe we are talking about different things,” Vivanco, of Human Rights Watch, said.

Human Rights Watch says a peace process may bring an end to five decades of armed conflict, but Colombia’s government will have a large task to ensure justice.