Colombia truth commission gives scathing report on civil war

Jun 28, 2022, 2:39 AM | Updated: 3:23 pm

A man screams asking for information about missing people during the ceremony to release a truth co...

A man screams asking for information about missing people during the ceremony to release a truth commission report on the country's internal conflict, in Bogota, Colombia, Tuesday, June 28, 2022. A product of the 2016 peace deal between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, the commission was tasked to investigate human rights violations committed by all actors between 1958 and 2016. (AP Photo/Ivan Valencia)

(AP Photo/Ivan Valencia)

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — A Truth Commission presented its final report on Colombia’s armed conflict Tuesday, urging the government, military and rebel groups that are still fighting in the countryside to recognize the suffering victims have endured and ensure that political disputes are no longer solved through violence.

The commission is made up of academics and representatives of civil society groups and was set up as part of a 2016 peace deal between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia that ended five decades of conflict in which at least 450,000 people were killed.

It was tasked with documenting war crimes and publishing its findings in a digital format that will be available to the public. The commission also issued a series of recommendations aimed at stopping future conflicts from taking root in Colombia, including changes to drug policy and transformations in the nation’s military forces.

The commission’s final report is based on interviews with 30,000 war victims, military leaders, former guerrilla fighters and five former Colombian presidents.

The 900-page report said 50,000 people were kidnapped between 1990 and 2018 as a result of Colombia’s armed conflict, often by rebel groups who kept hostages for ransom. It also mentioned that more than 7 million people were forced to flee their homes and that 56,000 civilians were killed by Colombia’s armed forces, including 6,300 people who were murdered in remote areas and presented to authorities as rebel fighters killed in action.

The report called for major changes to Colombia’s military and police forces, which have received more than $8 billion from the U.S. over the past two decades.

It said the military’s objectives should be re-evaluated and that all human rights violations committed by security forces should be tried by civilian courts.

The truth commission’s report also discussed drug related violence in Colombia and called on the nation’s government to regulate the drug trade so that its profits go to government agencies and not drug trafficking groups. It suggests that Colombia restart peace negotiations with the National Liberation Army, Colombia’s largest remaining rebel groups.

The Truth Commission’s recommendations are not legally binding. But some will likely be implemented by Colombia’s new government which will take over in August. President-elect Gustavo Petro attended the ceremony where the report was presented to the public and said its recommendations would “effectively become part of Colombia’s history.”

The leftist senator, who was once a member of a rebel group, said during his campaign that he will re-establish diplomatic relations with neighboring Venezuela whose socialist government is not recognized by the United States. Petro has also called for reforms to Colombia’s defense forces, suggesting he police should stop being used for military operations and be placed under greater civilian oversight.

The presentation ceremony was not attended by President Ivan Duque, who was in Portugal for the UN Ocean Conference. So the Truth Commission’s president, Jesuit priest Francisco de Roux, handed the report and its recommendations to Petro instead.

“We are confident that President Petro will incorporate these recommendations into institutional spaces of dialogue and debate, so that we can make the changes that are needed” De Roux said.

A separate war crimes tribunal called the Special Jurisdiction for Peace is also investigating crimes that happened during the armed conflict.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Image: Members of the Makah Indian tribe paddle away from the rising sun as they head from Neah Bay...

Associated Press

Washington’s Makah Tribe clears major hurdle toward resuming traditional whale hunts

The U.S. granted the Makah Indian Tribe a long-sought waiver that helps clear the way for its first sanctioned whale hunts since 1999.

13 hours ago

jerry west...

Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press

Jerry West, a 3-time Hall of Fame selection and the NBA logo, dies at 86

Jerry West, a three-time Basketball Hall of Fame inductee whose silhouette is considered to be the basis of the NBA logo, died Wednesday morning.

2 days ago

Photo: Construction vehicles are parked outside of the Station U & O building on Tuesday, June 11, ...

Haleluya Hadero, The Associated Press

Amazon adds $1.4B to affordable housing fund for regions where it has corporate offices

Amazon is adding $1.4B to a fund for building more affordable housing in regions where the company has major corporate offices.

2 days ago

hunter biden...

Randall Chase and the Associated Press

Hunter Biden convicted of all 3 felony charges in federal gun trial

Hunter Biden has been convicted of all three felony charges related to the purchase of a revolver in 2018, but no sentencing date was set.

3 days ago

Photo: A Bremerton man who made 20 "swatting" calls around the U.S. and in Canada, prompting real e...

Associated Press

Bremerton man sentenced for 20 ‘swatting’ calls of false threats in US, Canada

A Bremerton man who made 20 "swatting" calls around the U.S. and in Canada, prompting real emergency responses, has been sentenced.

3 days ago

Image: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, left, speaks with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zele...

Associated Press

Ukraine uses US weapons to strike inside Russia, a Western official tells AP

Ukraine has used U.S weapons to strike inside Russia in recent days, according to a Western official familiar with the matter told the AP.

9 days ago

Colombia truth commission gives scathing report on civil war