The World Council of Churches (WCC) has welcomed the historic announcement made by the Colombian government and the FARC revolutionary force agreeing to a framework for ending 50 years of internal conflict in the nation and addressing issues of justice and reparations to the victims.
“This breakthrough deal, to be finalized and signed within six months, is a sign of hope not only for Colombians but also for the whole world. We congratulate both leaders for their announced commitment to clear the path for a final peace agreement,” said Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, in a statement issued on 24 September.
“We praise the agreement of the parties to address the whole issue of human rights abuses that have occurred during the conflict. They have agreed to form a truth commission, to provide for reparations for war victims, and to offer amnesty for combatants except those who committed war crimes,” he added.
Tveit, who met Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in early September during his visit to the country, affirmed aspirations of the ecumenical movement for peace in the country. “Churches are committed to contribute to the peace building process,” he said.
“The announcement made yesterday is good news for all who have been working for peace. The agreement affirms the importance to implement a model of justice that enables building of long lasting peace that puts the rights of the victims as a priority,” said Rev. Gloria Ulloa, WCC president for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Colombia has been marred by violence for several decades. According to the Unit for Attention and Reparation of Victims established by the Colombian government, around 220,000 people have been killed.
In a joint announcement in Havana, President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC’s chief Rodrigo Londoño said the two sides had agreed on a strategy for transitional justice for conflict-related crimes such as kidnapping, murder, forced displacement, disappearance and torture.
The agreement between the two sides is expected to establish special tribunals, which will include international judges to prosecute and judge crimes related to the violence committed by both members of FARC and state agents, as well as non-combatants.
WCC affirms strong role of churches in Colombian peace process (WCC news release of 9 September 2015)