Peace versus Justice in Colombia

By Kerry-Luise Prior

This article elaborates on the discussion around peace versus justice within the setting of the Colombian armed conflict. To begin with, it is important to look at the extent and the context of the conflict. The first section of the chapter lays out the scale of the conflict, in terms of numbers and actors involved. It then explains the root causes of the conflict and the deep division of the Colombian society. Therefore, it is important to go back to the early 16th century in order to illustrate what provoked this intractable conflict. Due to the nature of the conflict, any peace agreement which claims to be aiming for sustainable peace needs to be all encompassing, aiming for structural changes that do not repeat historical inequalities. Understanding the history of the conflict helps explain why the Colombian Government has favoured peace over justice for so long. Subsequently, this chapter looks at the content and the legal framework of all former peace agreements in Colombia. This helps to identify a rather linear development of justice mechanisms that led to the 2016 peace agreement with the FARC-EP. Furthermore, it shows that impunity prevailed in all peace agreements until the Justice and Peace Law in 2005, which was the legal mechanism under which the combatants of the AUC disarmed.

It is important to note that the non-international armed conflict in Colombia is one of the most protracted and complex conflicts in recent history. It is one of the longest on-going armed conflicts worldwide and the longest in the southern hemisphere.[1] For over 50 years a complex actors’ landscape has developed, with diverse armed groups of disparate backgrounds fighting over land distribution, resources and power. The longer a conflict is on-going, the more difficult it is to solve it, which is one of the reasons why the Colombian armed conflict is considered intractable. Further characteristics of intractable conflicts are that “governments, the political opposition and social actors are both, drivers and affected parties.”[2] “The Franco-German relations, the ending of apartheid in South Africa and the cooperation of the former parties to the conflict in Northern Ireland in the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement,” are examples in which presumed intractable conflicts were resolved. [3] Thus, within the category of intractable conflicts, Colombia does not stand alone. Yet, other examples show that intractable conflicts have not been solved, for example the Palestine-Israel conflict. After signing the peace agreement in 2016 international media outlets reported that Colombia had finally found peace and announced the end of the armed conflict. However, this thesis argues that Colombia still finds itself in the midst of an armed conflict. First, violence has surged since signing the peace agreement. Secondly, peace negotiations with the ELN are still ongoing. Thirdly, many of the former AUC members have not disarmed but formed new armed groups.

Most Colombians were born and raised with the armed conflict being part of their lives and have little hope for a peaceful future. Over time, a large number of Colombians have lost their trust in the government’s capability and will, to fully terminate the armed conflict and to officially regain control of the Colombian territory. Trust has been undermined over time, with many even suspecting neighbours or relatives being members of an armed group.[4] In addition, the long history of the fight for power between the Liberals and Conservatives has divided the Colombian society into two camps and led families breaking apart over party politics. All this has created a deeply rooted culture of mistrust and intolerance which any peace agreement would need to take into account. Therefore, reconciliation and truth must be a priority in any peace agreement that aims to bring long lasting peace, especially in a country where violence has affected every part of society.

            The Government’s Unit for the Victims’ Assistance and Reparation has registered nearly nine million victims as a result of the Colombian armed conflict.[5] To put this into perspective, it means a total of 18 per cent of Colombians have directly fallen a victim to violence in the Colombian armed conflict. The estimated number of unreported cases is certainly much higher.  Additionally, many are indirect victims of the conflict, such as trauma inflicted by being a witness to heinous crimes or created by not knowing the whereabout of loved ones. [6] “Post-war societies are marked by the effects of massive, large group traumatization and if not properly dealt with, long term rehabilitation and social recovery cannot be expected.”[7] Unprocessed trauma is often embedded in the collective memory of a post-war society and its trans-generational transmission often leads to  generations to come to suffer from a conflict that they have not directly experienced.[8] Especially civilians carry the burden and hardship of armed conflicts.[9] In the Colombian case, the main victims are “Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendant, campesino (peasant farmer) communities and human rights defenders.”[10] Furthermore, the Colombian conflict has predominantly been “marked by the use of child soldiers and by widespread sexual violence against girls and women.”[11] According to the National Centre for Historical Memory (CNMH – Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica), 218,094 people were killed between 1958 and 2012, of which only 19 per cent were combatants and 81 per cent civilians.[12] Furthermore, according to the CNMH, 27,023 people were kidnapped during those years of which only 9.4 per cent were combatants and the rest civilians.[13] 25,007 people forcefully disappeared and 1,754 were victims of sexual violence.[14] Furthermore, Colombia records the second highest number of internally displaced people (IDP) worldwide after Syria, with a total number of eight million IDPs.[15] Nearly half of the IDPs are women or children under the age of thirteen.[16] Those numbers are probably the closest to the actual numbers and most scholars and politicians refer to the numbers produced by the CNMH and the Government’s Unit for the Victims Assistance and Reparation.

Between 1980 and 2012 more than 1,982 massacres were committed.[17] Six of ten were committed by paramilitary groups.[18] In comparison, only two of ten were committed by guerrilla groups of which most were committed by the FARC-EP, followed by the ELN. One of ten massacres was committed by the Colombian Security Forces.[19] Even though the Security Forces might not appear as the main perpetrators, they did facilitate many massacres committed by the paramilitaries. They provided information on the location of certain individuals, as well as logistical support and omitted further investigations into breaches of the law.

            The conflict has affected every part of Colombian society and its consequences are visible at all levels.[20] Yet, the devastation is mostly visible in rural areas. Trade unionists, journalists and human rights defenders are among the most threatened in the country, even more so since the peace treaty with the FARC-EP has been signed. People have been forced to flee their homes, women have been raped and children have been blown apart by landmines.[21] In the end, the conflict has negative effects on reducing poverty and on social and economic development, drawing most aspects of political life and development to a halt.

1.1 Colombia: A culture and history of violence

In order to understand the root causes of this immense violence, it is important to look back at the history of Colombia. As of 2020, approximately 80 indigenous groups live in Colombia, accounting for 1.6 per cent of the total population, so approximately 700,000 people. Yet, when Colombia was conquered by the Spanish in 1499, three to four million indigenous people were living in Colombia.[22] The Spanish conquerors installed the institution of Encomienda, which meant that the indigenous population had to pay the Spanish Patron a regular tribute.[23] The indigenous population was forced to work in the agricultural sector and was treated as slaves. As a result, the population shrank immensely due to inhumane working conditions or because they committed suicide.

            The division of land during the colonial times laid the basis for many of today’s conflicts in Colombia. At the time, the land automatically became the possession of the Spanish King, who then gradually passed it on to conquerors, immigrants or privileged indigenous people. After more than a century, the conveniently situated lands were in the hands of a few. In case of disputed borders, the landlord could simply buy the disputed land. Thus, land was bought and sold and the original necessity to cultivate land was abolished. Ultimately, the Spanish crown divided what was left of the land between the conquerors, the wealthy and the church. At that time, one third of the land was owned by the church. Much of the indigenous territory was destroyed and the Spanish crown created protected reserves for the indigenous population. Those territories were comparably small, and the indigenous population was forced to work in return for a gift, as the Spanish crown considered. The structure of this land reform has mostly prevailed until today and is one of the root causes of the armed conflict. The privileged have access to resources, leading to social inequality and subsequently tensions and unrest.

            The owners of large estates received consistently higher profits but the wages for the workers stayed the same, while the living expenses increased. As a result, social tensions grew. As a consequence, workers and parts of the upper class began to rise against the inequalities of the system and requested an independent republic. In 1810, the uprisings led to the banishment of the vice King and Colombia declared independence in July of the same year. [24]

Today’s conservative and liberal parties were formed during the mid 19th century, with primarily different social interests. The upper class, forming the backbone of the conservative party and supported by the church, wanted to maintain the status quo. The liberals requested a division of state and church, a federal system with decentralized administration and freedom of religion. The liberal party was supported mainly by the middle class of the bigger cities, intellectuals and marginalised groups. The most dividing question between the two parties was the influence of the church.[25] The church was one of the largest landowners in Colombia, the main tax collector and one of the most important financial institutions.[26] Therefore, the conservatives had a great financial interest in cooperating with the Catholic church.

In the subsequent years the liberals and conservatives fought a constant battle for political power. Strong loyalty bonds were formed with either party, which strengthened the image of the enemy and emphasized the idea of a victim and a perpetrator within the Colombian society. Party loyalty is, even today, a fundamental part of people’s identity and their comportment in society.

The economic upswing in the early 20th century saw first attempts to form a socialist party and the establishment of trade unions. Those attempts were widely supported by the intellectual elite of the country. In 1925, the smaller socialist parties united and the idea of an armed insurgency grew. Due a reform of the Constitution in 1936, under the liberal President López Pumarejo, property was dispossessed, emphasising its social function.[27] As a result, landowners were dispossessed of more than 300 hectares of unused land. This was the first time in the Colombian history that the government stepped aside from their usual unconditional support of the great landowners. Furthermore, the reform strengthened the role of the state in the economy, diminished the role of the church and guaranteed the freedom of religion.[28]

1.2 The history of the Colombian armed conflict

The attempt to implement a stronger democracy with a distinct view on social components ended in La Violencia (the violence), a violent confrontation between liberals and conservatives. Many of the revolts were led either by priests or church groups fearing a decline in power or were organised by conservatives gathering peasant groups to fight against what they regarded as communist policies. The elite felt threatened by their loss of power and a coup finally pushed President Lópze Pumarejo to step down. This initiated 10 years of violent confrontation between the two camps. The era of La Violencia left more than 200,000 to 300,000 Colombians dead.[29] Many historians point to the assassination of the Liberal presidential candidate Jorge Eliécer Gaitán as the decisive starting point of La Violencia and subsequently the current armed conflict. He was shot in Bogotá on 9 April 1948. His assassination caused riots that left much of Bogotá destroyed and killed thousands of Colombians.

In the following election the conservatives won and publicly called to fight against the liberals and communists. A more capitalist system was implemented. This led to increased prices and people with lower incomes revolted. Their discontent was met with violence by the state. Members of the Liberal party started distributing weapons in rural areas for self-defence and armed groups formed. Subsequently, the conservative government prohibited trade unions, demonstrations and any sort of revolt.

In order to end the conflict, the liberals and conservatives reached a power sharing agreement for the following 16 years, referred to as Frente Nacional (National Front). Liberals and conservatives agreed to alternate mandates every four years.[30] During this time, many guerrilla groups emerged as a response to social inequality and the unequal distribution of power.[31] The distribution of power between two parties led to corruption and a loss of democracy as now the election results were no longer relevant. This, in turn, led to a lack of interest in politics by most Colombians. The guerrilla groups were formed, all with a similar objective and appearing mostly in the less populated areas of Colombia. The Marxist-Leninist guerrilla group FARC-EP was formed in 1964 as part of the armed wing of the PCC (Colombian Communist Party, Partido Communista Colombiano). It was initially a protest against their hindrance to participate in the democratic system, as no other parties were allowed in the elections.[32] In 1964 the ELN (National Liberation Army, Ejército de Liberación Nacional)formed which is still active today. In 1967 the EPL (Popular Liberation Army, Ejército Popular de Liberación), in 1970 the M-19 (Movement of the 19th of April, Movimiento 19 de abril) and in 1985 the Quintín Lame indigenous guerrilla.[33]

As a result, several paramilitary groups formed to repel the guerrilla in the late 1960s. The Colombian paramilitaries have their origins in local civilian counterinsurgency groups that joined forces with local drug cartels. The initial idea of counterinsurgency developed into a more elaborate structure in which they complemented the armed forces and supported regional public and private interests.[34] Together with the US military, Colombia launched the Plan Lazo in 1962, which was a counterinsurgency strategy that suggested selecting civilian and military personnel for clandestine training. It was meant to execute paramilitary strategies of sabotage against communist enemies and to organise civilian self-defence groups. In a state of siege, Decree 3398 from 1965 legalised this conduct. It laid out that all Colombians are in charge to actively participate in the national defence where necessary to defend national independence and national institutions.[35] Several military manuals emerged during this time encouraging the formation of paramilitary organisations which were made up of civilians trained for the combat zone.[36] Especially landowners and the elite supported the creation of self-defence groups as they expected them to prevent the guerrilla from extorting local businesses, especially in areas where there was little or no state presence.[37]

In 1993, Decree 3398 was converted into Law 48, which subsequently allowed the Ministry of Defence to provide civilians with weapons in order to maintain the national independence and to defend national institutions.[38] Even though few of these groups formed, it did however serve the armed forces as an excuse to support paramilitary groups and use them for their own operations. In the late 1990s, various paramilitary groups united under the name of AUC (United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia – Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia) to merge their forces.

            During the Cold War, the Colombian Government used the ideology of the communist enemy to justify violence against the guerrilla groups in Colombia and against any other movement with a link to a more leftist ideology, including any social movements, such as trade unionists. The Patriotic Union party (UP, Unión Patriótica) a party associated with the FARC-EP was heavily targeted through systematic assassinations and forced disappearances. According to a report by the National Centre for Memory and History (CDMH, Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica), 4,153 members of the UP fell victim to assassinations, disappearances and kidnapping between 1984 and 2002.[39] Of these, 3,122 were assassinated, 544 forcefully disappeared and 478 were killed during a massacre, 4 were kidnapped and three fell victim to another type of violence.[40] Of those assassinated two were presidential candidates, six congressmen, 17 members of parliament and 163 counsellors.[41] Paramilitaries, landowners, drug traffickers and the armed forces systematically assassinated them.[42] The UP initially promoted a left-wing alternative that quickly gained support across the country. Even though the UP later distanced itself from the FARC-EP, it did retain its basic Marxist ideology. In the report by the CDMH, the killings of the UP members were declared a political genocide and in 2016, President Santos admitted the state’s failure to protect the UP and later also held responsible those that committed these crimes.[43]

1.3 A path to peace

During the 1990s, the Colombian Government successfully engaged in peace negotiations with eight guerrilla groups, which was due to the weakened status of some of the groups.[44] More than 5,000 combatants demobilised and were fairly successfully reintegrated into society. Today, many of the former combatants are high ranking politicians, members of think tanks or NGOs or work in the public sector.[45]

            The power vacuum that the guerrilla groups caused was soon filled by the paramilitary and other armed groups. As a result, violence increased in many parts of Colombia, especially towards human rights defenders, trade unionists and the indigenous community. In the early 2000s the violence by the paramilitary groups was at its peak, often supported and encouraged by the armed forces and the government.[46] The paramilitary was the state’s extended arm to combine organised crime and other financial and political interests. Some have even called them the sixth division of the armed forces.[47] Economic interests of the Colombian state included drug trafficking, mining, arms and land appropriation.[48]

When the USA declared the AUC a terrorist organisation in 2001, President Álvaro Uribe initiated a demobilization process with over 30,000 AUC members.[49] The paramilitaries were hoping for a deal that would avoid their extradition to the USA for drug trafficking, possibly facing long prison sentences.[50] The demobilisation law granted paramilitaries most of their wishes. There was little will and interest to truly demobilise the AUC, mostly by Uribe himself, as he profited from their existence and illegal operations.[51] Thus, many claimed the demobilisation process to be a mere farce in order for Uribe to legalise the AUC and to remove them from the terrorist list of the USA, as well as to remain on good terms with the AUC for future collaborations. Many former AUC members ultimately formed new groups, continuing to threaten the population even today and referred to as ‘neo-paramilitaries’.[52] Uribe’s Government neglected to recognise the failure of the demobilisation, to the detriment of all the victims of the paramilitaries and the ‘neo-paramilitaries’. By neglecting the existence of certain groups and only making the guerrilla movements responsible for all crimes, victims are treated differently depending on the perpetrators. Therefore, many families have until now no certainty about the fate of their relatives and loved ones.

Uribe’s administration quickly declared the guerrilla movements a terrorist threat and denied the existence of an internal armed conflict.[53] This was most certainly a strategic step in order to circumvent the application of International Humanitarian Law.y[54] His hard-line approach to ending the guerrilla movements and any organisation or individual even slightly linked to them or any other leftist organisation was assassinated in the name of the national security strategy. Even though his popularity among the more conservative population rose, he did not defeat any guerrilla movements. In fact, the Uribe administration secretly met with the two remaining guerrilla groups, the FARC-EP and the ELN during his time of office.[55] However, while none of the secret meetings led to signing any peace agreement, he did manage to secure ceasefire agreements that lasted up to one week.[56]

In 2010 Juan Manuel Santos, who was Minister of Defence under Uribe, was elected as Colombia’s next President. He was endorsed by Uribe but promptly distanced himself from him. He quickly recognised the armed conflict which changed the entire discourse for all parties involved, especially legally. He established himself as the President of reconciliation and was recognised for his efforts for a more peaceful Colombia in 2016 by receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. In his inauguration speech Santos reaffirmed that the focus of his Presidency was to bring about national unity within a country of diversity.[57] In August 2012 he officially announced that exploratory talks had taken place with the then largest guerrilla group, the FARC-EP, with an estimate of 8,000 remaining combatants.[58]

The ELN is the only remaining guerrilla group with approximately 4,000 members.[59] They have grown substantially since the FARC-EP entered into peace negotiations with the government, as many former FARC-EP combatants joined the ELN and because the FARC-EP left behind a certain power vacuum. President Ivan Duque entered into peace negotiations with the ELN right after taking office in 2018. Duque’s demand to end the kidnappings by the ELN and their armed violence has not yet been met with positive action by the ELN.[60] Even though the ELN has offered cease fires at several occasions, the peace negotiations have not progressed much since 2018.

1.4. Earlier peace laws and negotiations

As already mentioned above, several attempts at negotiating peace have been made throughout the history of modern Colombia. They can all be seen as a framework in which each peace process builds upon the country’s prior experience. Different laws were passed and amended in order to respond to the demobilisation of combatants. In order to understand the content of the 2016 peace agreement and the meaning behind each mechanism proposed, it is important to recognise the preceding paths.

In 1979, Alfredo Vásquez Carrizosa, a well-known Colombian jurist and diplomat raised his concerns about the violation of the human rights of guerrillas captured by the Colombian state. At that time, it became known that combatants of the M-19 were being tortured in captivity. He raised awareness for the protection of human rights and founded the Permanent Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CPDH) in 1979. On 30 March 1979 it held its first national Forum on Human Rights which led to a public statement requesting the release of political prisoners and denouncing indiscriminate detentions and searches. The Committee furthermore accused the state of the misuse of military courts for common or political crimes. It denounced that the military was involved in assassinating, torturing or indiscriminately detaining indigenous leaders, labour union members and human rights defenders. The Constitution did allow for a detention of those who posed a threat to the public order.[61] Furthermore, the principle of habeus corpus could be suspended for up to ten days. After the second forum in 1980, it solicited a general amnesty law for those detained for political reasons. This ultimately led to the issuance of Law 37 in 1981, marking the beginning of a series of amnesty and pardon laws in Colombia. Law 37 declared a conditional amnesty for the acts of rebellion, sedition or revolt in case of no nexus to kidnapping, extortion, homicide outside combats, barbarism, ferocity, arson or poisoning water sources or deposits.[62] Article 11 of the same law extended amnesty and pardons to those already deprived of their liberty. However, the law was met with great resistance and criticism, as many argued that rebellion, sedition and revolt are mostly committed in combination with the violation of other provisions of the criminal law. It furthermore made amnesty and pardons conditional upon the surrender of the arms and the will to reintegrate into civilian life.

            Under the Presidency of Belisario Betancur (1982-1986) the Peace Commission, established under the Presidency of Carlos Lleras (1966-1970) but dissolved during the Presidency of Julio César Turbay (1978-1982), was re-established and brought back to life.[63] The Commission was made up of 40 people from different backgrounds and had inter alia the task to discuss options for the recovery and development of the different regions, improvement of security and justice and incorporation of the different regions into the political, economic and social life in order to respond to new realities and demands of society. Betancur urged the Commission to come forward with ideas and alternatives to re-integrate armed groups into civilian life, which resulted in the formulation and passing of Law 35 in 1982, granting amnesty to all political crimes, being mainly rebellion, sedition and revolt.[64] In contrast to Law 37, it did not require conditions in order to receive full amnesty. Approximately 1,500 detainees were able to leave prison as a result of Law 35. The same law was amplified in 1985 to also allow the President to grant pardon to the above-mentioned political crimes. It did, however, make the exception of not granting amnesty in cases of kidnapping, extortion and homicide committed outside combat.[65]

President Virgilio Barco (1986-1990) of the Liberal party was the first to attempt confronting the paramilitary phenomena with legal measures. It became increasingly evident that groups of private justice were disturbing public order under the protection of the legal framework that enabled the paramilitaries to be created in the first place. President Barco, whose mandate was highly focussed on tackling drug trafficking, issued four crucial decrees in 1989. The decrees prohibited the participation of civilians in military operations, it penalised the promotion, funding or membership in self-defence groups, it established an anti-hitman committee (Comité Antisicarial) to coordinate state efforts to dismantle the paramilitary groups and it suspended all regulations considered to be the legal foundation for the creation of self-defence and paramilitary groups.[66] Unfortunately, the violence only increased as a result of the decrees, as the paramilitary groups were trying to fight the placed limitations, which had mainly affected their drug trade and thus their financial income.

Most importantly, during his presidency, one of the largest guerrilla groups M-19, with approximately 2,000 members disarmed and re-integrated into society.[67] Law 77 was signed just weeks before the peace agreement with the M-19 was signed. It laid down that the President could grant pardon to those who had committed crimes of rebellion, sedition or revolt, or crimes connected to it.[68] For those who had committed homicides outside a combat situation, or treated a victim with cruelty, or left a victim defenceless, for crimes of barbarism or ferocity, or being part of a terrorist group, these benefits would not apply.[69] M-19 was at the time not declared a terrorist group. Further requirements were the free will of the combatants to re-integrate into civilian life and to put down their arms.[70] Decree 206 signed on 22 January 1990, finalised the steps towards a possible peace agreement and its administrative hurdle. The M-19 had one condition in order to sign a peace agreement, which was the renewal of the 1886 Constitution. Their main concern with the Constitution was that it did not allow any other party despite the Conservative and the Liberal to enter the political sphere. Clearly, the M-19 had intentions to enter politics. A new Constitution was subsequently drafted and signed in July 1991. On 9 March 1990, the M-19, after fighting the State for 20 years, put down its arms and returned to civilian life. This was the first peace agreement between a government and a guerrilla group in Latin America.[71] However, none of the M-19 members were ever indicted before a court. At the time the ICC had not yet been established, which is one of the reasons why a presidential pardon for all of the M-19 combatants was possible.[72]

            Multiple M-19 members quickly gained popularity amongst the population as they offered a political alternative to the two other parties. Unfortunately, several M-19 members were killed, as some Colombians could not accept that the former combatants went without punishment. It certainly leaves doubts as to whether all crimes committed by the M-19 during their 20 years of combat against the state did only amount to crimes of a political nature which receive amnesty under Law 77. Later, Antonio Navarro Wolff, head negotiator and member of the M-19, said that the deal was to participate in politics in exchange for giving up arms.[73]

            President César Gaviria (1990-1994), developed a comprehensive strategy against violence but neglected the wider picture around the paramilitary groups. He only recognised them as part of the national narco-trafficking problem. However, he established Convivir, a special service for surveillance and private security, thinking that a legal alternative to the paramilitaries would restrain the rise of paramilitary activities.[74] Unfortunately, many of those recruited to be part of Convivir ended up being involved in the paramilitary activities as the government quickly lost control over Convivir. Without being able to distinguish anymore between paramilitary and Convivir agents, the decree to establish Convivir gave the paramilitary a somewhat additional legal basis. As the situation got out of hand, the Constitutional Court in 1995 ruled that the authorisation of all Security Forces, other than the armed forces and the police, was unconstitutional.[75] In 1997, the Constitutional Court ruled that Convivir itself was constitutional, but the types of weapons used should not be identical to those of the armed forces but those of private security services.[76]

            In Decree 1926 of 1990, the government had ruled that two seats of the General Assembly should be reserved for guerrilla groups, with the prospect of increasing this number for guerrilla groups that demobilised.[77] In 1991, the government passed Decree 213 which formed the second basis for peace agreements with three guerrilla groups in 1991. The decree implied, that the peace process required demobilisation, reintegration into civilian life and laying down of arms by the rebel groups in exchange for the government’s suspension of sanctioning political crimes.[78] It furthermore stated that the modification of the penal regime was indispensable for the advancement of the peace process and public order.[79] Article 1 of Decree 213 articulated that all criminal action for political crimes, being rebellion, sedition, revolt and all related crimes was omitted. Genocide, homicides outside a combat situation, ferocity, barbarism and leaving the victim in a state of defencelessness were excluded from an indirect pardon.[80] In exchange, rebel organisations had to demobilise and lay down their arms.[81] This was extended to those already held in detention and already sentenced.[82]

The first guerrilla group to fall under this decree was the PRT (Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores), which had taken up arms against the State in 1982, counting 200 members at the time of demobilisation. The peace agreement was signed on 25 January 1991. The peace agreement guaranteed the PRT representation in the National Assembly, the right to demobilise into a political party and granted them a trust fund for projects in the area where PRT operated. Furthermore, the government granted members financial benefits to be used for health care and education. The PRT never formed its own political party but members joined the M-19 political party, the Alianza Democrática M-19, which in the 2000s entered a leftist coalition of parties called the Alternative Democratic Pole. The second guerrilla group to sign a peace agreement under the same decree and framework was the EPL (People’s Liberation Army – Ejército Popular de Liberación). At the time, the EPL consisted of approximately 4,000 members and had been in an armed conflict with the State for 24 years. They signed the peace agreement on 15 February 1991.[83] However, not all members demobilised, as approximately five per cent of the combatants re-organised themselves under the alias of Los Pelusos, which to date operates in the Catatumbo region, the border region with Venezuela. The third guerrilla group to disarm under the same framework and law was the MAQL (Quintin Lame Armed Movement – Movimiento Armado Quintín Lame), an indigenous guerrilla group officially formed in 1984, having been active since the early 1920s. They signed the peace agreement in May 1991 with approximately 130 members. As part of the peace agreement, the government had promised to invest more into the needs of the indigenous groups across the country. After the demobilisation they re-organised themselves into the Alianza Social Indígena (Indigenous Social Alliance), which still exists today.

Again, none of the guerrilla groups faced criminal sanctions or had to disclose the information on the crimes they had committed. Especially in Colombia, where one of the most common crimes has been forced disappearances and with thousands of families still looking for their loved ones, this was not a process that favoured reconciliation. It seemed as if peace was more important than justice. However, peace and justice can also be achieved simultaneously. Certainly, during the time of the first negotiations, little experience prevailed as to how to reconcile justice and peace at the same time, even at an international level. No international courts or ad hoc courts had yet been established. Although many other armed conflicts were happening around the world simultaneously to the Colombian armed conflict, none had terminated in a peace process that focussed on the victims and on justice. One example is the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile, who granted amnesties to his dictatorship.[84] Another example is the armed conflict in Argentina in which the government passed two amnesty laws for the military and pardoned the leaders of the junta.[85] Lastly, the 1977 Spanish Amnesty Law which guaranteed impunity for those who had committed crimes during the dictatorship of General Franco.[86]

            As mentioned before, the Constitution of 1886 was replaced in 1991 due to the pressure from the M-19 to allow for the participation of other political parties. Furthermore, it institutionalised amnesties. Article 150(17) of the 1991 Constitution states that, “by a majority of two thirds of the votes of the members of one and another Chamber and for serious reasons of public convenience, amnesties or general pardons for political crimes” shall be granted.[87] Transitory Article 30 further states that, “the National Government is authorized to grant pardons or amnesties for political and related crimes, committed prior to the promulgation of this constituent act, to members of guerrilla groups who re-join civilian life in terms of the policy of reconciliation. […] This benefit may not be extended to atrocious crimes or homicides committed outside of combat or taking advantage of the victim’s state of defencelessness.” [88] The change of the Constitution did on the one hand integrate the framework of the prior amnesty decrees and laws which served as the basis for the peace agreements with the guerrilla groups. On the other hand, it drastically reduced the power of the president and made it more difficult for those pardons and amnesties to be granted on the discretion of any president.

            In 1993, the government passed Law 104, which would turn out to be the most important basis for the following peace agreements and amnesty laws in the upcoming years and served as the predecessor of Law 975, the law under which the AUC demobilised. For the first time, the role of victims was taken into account in the process of achieving peace. Article 10 of Law 104 ruled that the judge could oblige the perpetrators to repair the damage caused by his or her crime. Law 104 furthermore referred to the care of victims of terrorist attacks and those who had directly suffered damage through bombs or explosives. According to Article 47 they would receive humanitarian assistance paid from a solidarity and social emergency fund. Law 104 formed the legal basis for the peace agreement with the CRS (Corriente de Renovación Socialista), which had been active since 1991 and who disarmed with approximately 800 members in April 1993. Likewise, under the same law, the Milicias Urbanas de Medellín disarmed with approximately 650 members in May 1993 and the Frente Francisco Garnica de la Coordinadora Guerrillera with 130 members disarmed in June 1993.[89] Many members of these three guerrilla groups were murdered in the subsequent years.

            President Ernesto Samper (1994-1998) of the Liberal party recognised the paramilitaries as agents of the armed conflict and acknowledged the importance of their agency in creating peace. By passing Law 241 in 1995 and Law 418 in 1997, the succession laws to Law 104 of 1993, Samper opened up the possibility for self-defence groups to be granted amnesties. In July 1998, the armed insurgency group MIR-COAR (Movimiento Independiente Revolucionario Comandos Armados) signed a peace agreement with the government.[90] Like all other groups, the former combatants were promised to receive basic education, vocational training and financial support from a state fund.[91] Thus again, the focus lay on the reintegration of the combatants and their wish for amnesty.

President Andrés Pastrana (1998 to 2002), did not pursue the judicial prosecution of the paramilitaries any further, even though the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights pointed to a link between the armed forces, the paramilitary and serious human rights violations.[92] Pastrana did initiate peace talks and a ceasefire with the FARC-EP. However, after the FARC-EP hijacked a plane in 2002, he ceased the peace talks with the group.[93]

At the same time Pastrana negotiated a diplomatic initiative intended to combat Colombian drug-cartels and left-wing insurgency groups in Colombia in cooperation with the USA, called Plan Colombia. The initiative, signed in 2000 and part of the greater USA’s war on drugs campaign, was meant to provide training to the Colombian armed forces in order to better fight coca planting. It was however heavily criticised by several NGOs and Human Rights organisations as a deception, as they argued that the USA was supporting Uribe in assassinating and exterminating guerrilla combatants. The number of civilian victims increased heavily during that time.[94]

President Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010) continued the Plan Colombia, which was re-named into Plan Patriota in 2003 and redefined as a plan to recover urban areas and communication routes against the influence of illegal groups. This was, again, a military initiative supported by the USA, to exterminate and uproot the FARC-EP.

            Uribe was one of the most lenient Presidents towards the paramilitary in Colombian history. Even though he negotiated a peace agreement with three paramilitary groups, namely the AUC, the Central Bolivar Blow and the Victors of Arauca Bloc this was merely a farce, as they reformed into new groups and Uribe’s cooperation with the ‘neo-paramilitaries’ continued. Law 104 of 1993, with its succeeding laws (Law 241, Law 418 and Law 548), having previously been used to negotiate peace with the guerrillas and self-defence groups was amended in order to advance peace negotiations with the paramilitary. Law 104 had allowed pardons and amnesties for illegally armed groups, the guerrilla groups and self-defence groups that had been granted political status. As the paramilitary was not necessarily illegal as many saw it acting on the legal basis of Law 48, it was politically delicate to negotiate with the paramilitary under the umbrella of Law 104. Furthermore, under the Uribe administration, the existence of paramilitaries and their crimes was often neglected or purposely overlooked. In 2002, Law 782 came to life as an amendment to Law 104, eliminating the before mentioned criteria. It now allowed to cover those groups established with a command chain exercising control over a part of the territory that enabled them to carry out military operations. Article 7 of Law 782 amplified the definition of the term victim, as it now included harm done through terrorist attacks, combats, kidnappings, attacks and massacres in the framework of an internal armed conflict that left any member of the civilian population with damage to their lives, or serious deterioration in the personal integrity or property. Decree 128 of 2003 added to Law 782 by stating that the benefits received for demobilising could be either a pardon, a conditional suspension of the execution of the sentence, cessation of procedure, preclusion of the instruction or the inhibitory resolution.

            In 2004 Decree 2767 modified Law 782 and clarified that benefits for the demobilisation shall only be granted to those who collaborate with the judicial and law enforcement authorities, handing in their arms and other material and tools used for the armed conflict, including drugs through which they financed themselves, or communication that brought strategy advantages.[95] Those who demobilised and voluntarily carried out cooperation activities with the armed forces would receive a financial bonus from the Ministry of Defence.[96]

1.4.1 Justice and Peace Law

Law 975, also referred to as the Justice and Peace Law established the judicial framework that regulated the demobilisation and reintegration of armed groups outside the law, such as the paramilitary and guerrilla.[97] The law was introduced by the Uribe administration together with the High Commissioner for Peace, Luis Carlos Restrepo and passed in July 2005 by Congress and laid the foundation of the more current transitional justice framework in Colombia, as it recognised that no peace process is possible without justice. It was supposed to make up for the shortcoming in Laws 104, 241, 418, 548 and 782, which have been discussed in section 3.4. Within that legal framework 30,000 AUC combatants demobilised.[98]

            However, what is important to emphasise is that the Justice and Peace Law was only applicable to those individuals who were under investigation or had already been convicted of human rights violations. Thus, only 10 per cent of the 30,000 paramilitaries qualified for the inclusion under Law 975.[99] The rest demobilised under Law 782 which grants pardons and thus de facto amnesties to all members of illegal armed groups. This in turn means, that 27,000 combatants disarmed, received financial benefits without allowing the victims to reconcile with the past, strapped from the chance to find truth.

            The focus of Law 975 lies on truth, justice and reparation.[100] Combatants can voluntarily disclose their crimes committed or those that they know of but committed by others. In exchange for a full testimony, disclosure of the possession of legal or illegal goods they can seek the benefits of demobilization. The assets and goods are then used for the reparation of victims. The law thereby facilitated the peace process and the reintegration into society and according to Article 2 of Law 975, the national reconciliation, which is the self-acclaimed aim of Law 975.[101] This judicial procedure is hereby penal, exceptional and transitional.[102]

            At the time of demobilisation, the paramilitaries had achieved a “high degree of political influence, both locally and nationally.” [103] The paramilitaries were strongly supported by many politicians, especially by Uribe. Therefore, the government had a legitimate interest in achieving a peace deal which seemed rigorous, in order to display a willingness to end the armed conflict, while actually not intending to put behind bars any close allies. However, the paramilitaries were responsible for crimes all across the country, shielding themselves by arguing that they were protecting Colombia from the guerrilla. However, as one former commander said, “it was not a fight for Colombia. It was a drug trafficking war,” they fought against the guerrilla for the access to land in order to grow coca.[104] Yet, at the same time they received support and colluded with many members of the Colombian security forces.[105] During the negotiations it became very clear that the intention behind the demobilization was to avoid extradition and prison terms in the USA for drug trafficking. Some argue that Law 975 gave the paramilitaries everything they asked for.[106] This is after tapes from the negotiations between the paramilitaries and the government leaked, which revealed how high ranking paramilitary officials threatened the government to comply with their requirements.[107] Yet, President Uribe argued that the law was a “compromise between the competing goals of justice and peace, stating that his goal is to reach peace without impunity, apply justice without surrender.”[108]

            The framework of the law provides several unsettling provisions, which focussed extensively on signing a peace deal but little on justice or long-term peace. This has probably fuelled the armed conflict only further. First, Law 975 granted generous sentence reductions which neglects the necessity of justice. In order to receive a sentence reduction, no matter the allegation, individuals had to accept the charges against them.[109] Reduced sentences were set between five to eight years with a possibility to be served outside a prison setting. Yet, the sentences for the different crimes committed were not served consecutively but reduced to an accumulated single sentence. The time the paramilitaries served in the transition zone was deducted. Furthermore, prisoners were allowed to reduce their sentences for work or study for up to one third of the total time. What is furthermore troubling is the fact that commanders received sentence reductions regardless of whether they ensured that their subordinates ended abuses.

Second, the law does not offer any incentives for the paramilitaries to confess to their crimes or unveil internal information about the group.[110] This is because sentence reductions are not conditioned on a full and truthful confession. Thus, most combatants only ever admitted to those crimes for which the Attorney General’s office had evidence and kept quiet about other crimes, that might have been even more heinous. This means that there is little to investigate and explains why so many have walked away free. This is to the detriment of the victims, as they will not receive information about the remains of their loved ones and hinders the recognition of violence by paramilitaries. This in turn can cause great trauma for the individual over time. Yet, Restrepo argued that benefits should not be conditioned on confessions, as this would violate the right against self-incrimination and is comparable to a confession under torture.[111] However, in many countries and international courts, a full confession is a standard part of a plea bargain.

Third, Law 975 provides for mechanisms that are highly impossible to implement in reality. One of them is the requirement that the prosecutor has to bring all charges against the accused within 36 hours after taking their statement and complete the investigation within the next 60 days.[112] Those timeframes are unrealistic, considering the vast amount of combatants that demobilized and mean that many will not have been charged even though evidence existed. In 2006, the Colombian Supreme Court ruled that the strict time limit was against the law and requested the Government to amend Law 975 in this respect.[113]

Lastly, there is also no incentive to turn over illegally acquired wealth. Even though Articles 10(2) and 11(5) of Law 975 require the combatants to turn over their illegal assets, there is no mechanism in place to proof the accuracy of their declarations. While it is a prerequisite to turn over the assets in order to be eligible for the demobilization benefits, there are no penalties in place in case it is later found that they withheld information on their illegally acquired wealth. This also means that they will suffer very little in terms of the finances and thus allows them to remain in power.

The only real focus on victims was the established National Commission for Reparation and Reconciliation.[114] It administers reparation schemes and established a working group on historical memory. The group generated reports on human rights violations in Colombia and thus advanced truth and a common narrative.[115] Over $29 billion have been allocated to the mentioned framework.[116]

All together it can be said that the law allowed for the paramilitaries to remain in power, with no harm being done to their wealth, little accountability and a serious damage to the respect of human rights, the rule of law and efforts to bring justice to the victims. All while making little progress towards peace as many demobilised combatants formed into new groups. The measures imposed by the government appear unequal to the damage the AUC has caused and the thousands of lives that were destroyed. Thus, can Law 975 be referred to as a justice and peace law? While it was a mere political farce focusing purely on disarming and giving benefits to the paramilitaries. One leading paramilitary stated, “the demobilization process is a way to try to clean the biggest guys, [and] move all their money into legality.”[117] Another commented, that, “it’s a way of quieting down the system and returning again, starting over from another side.”[118] According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the law is an insufficient mechanism to protect the victims’ right to truth, justice and reparation.[119] By 2013, eight years after Law 975 was adopted, “only 10 judgments of first instance and 7 judgments of second instance have been handed down and only 14 of those who sought to avail themselves of the benefits (postulados) have been convicted.”[120] Furthermore, the Inter-American Commission criticised, that the judgements did not refer to high ranking members and did not reveal any patterns of macro-criminality.[121]

The Inter-American Commission further expressed concerns, that the Law and its implementation could be incompatible with the right of victims to judicial guarantees and judicial protection.[122] Indeed, Colombia has obligations under international law to guarantee a victims’ right to truth and reparation. One example are the ‘Updated Set of principles for the protection and promotion of human rights through action to combat impunity.’[123] Furthermore, cases at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights have referred to the importance of reparations.[124] Likewise, the Hague Convention IV, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights have pointed to the necessity of a state to provide for reparation and compensation in cases of violations of human rights and humanitarian law.[125]

            However, more importantly, Colombia was a member state to the ICC while in negotiations with the AUC. Several sources point to a fear of the paramilitaries to face indictment by the ICC and show that the mere threat of a prosecution by the ICC pushed the negotiations between the government and the AUC to include more justice components.[126] The ICC opened its preliminary examination approximately at the same time as the Colombian Government commenced negotiations with the AUC. The ICC Prosecutor at the time Luis Moreno-Ocampo was hoping to push Colombia’s institutions to act in accordance with international norms.[127] However, the ICC did not inform Colombia about the details of the examination until one year later. Thus, the Colombian Government looked for guidance on the prevention of an ICC intervention by analysing the amnesty jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.[128]

At the time when the peace negotiations initiated the ICC held a rather inflexible line of interpretation of Article 53 of the Rome Statute, which allows for the opening of an investigation.[129] This was evident from the ICC’s former investigations in Kenya and Uganda. [130] Law 975, which was very different from the governments prior rhetoric which foresaw complete amnesty for all combatants was influenced by the ICC’s pressure but also by the Inter-American Court.[131] After all, in the ICC’s visit to Colombia in 2015 Vice-Prosecutor James Stewart publicly stated that States have ample discretion in matters related to sentencing, however that the absolute suspension of sentences was incompatible with the Rome Statute.[132]

1.5. The pre-eminence of impunity

Colombia has a history and culture of violence linked with impunity for crimes committed during the armed conflict. Judges, prosecutors and lawyers are threatened by officials not to investigate further in certain cases or into certain directions, others are bribed in order to obtain a favourable outcome.[133] Surely many have lost confidence in the independence of the judiciary and the possibilities for a fair trial if there is one at all. According to the United Nations, nearly all cases in which the military was responsible for extra judicial killings, remained without investigation.[134] Cases in which the armed forces are charged with crimes, outside the framework of any special transitional justice process, are brought before national military courts. They seem very lenient towards their own people and thus crimes often go unpunished. In contrast, around 97 per cent of trade unionists’ assassinations remain unanswered, which are mostly committed by neo-paramilitaries or the armed forces. [135] Thus, as the armed forces are often granted impunity and the neo-paramilitaries officially do not exist many crimes go unanswered. This makes it difficult for Colombians to come to terms with their past. Many victims and family members still have no answers about the truth of the crimes committed, about the location of their loved ones or have seen no justice being done. The crimes committed by the different actors remain a memory of those that have suffered them with no place to share their experience and to create a collective memory.

This stands in strong contrast to the many political prisoners in Colombia. As of May 2020, there were around 122,000 prisoners in Colombia, of which many are political prisoners.[136] Many of the political prisoners are held without trial and their lawyers are not granted access to the evidence. Most of them are charged for the crime of rebellion, defamation or terrorism. The crime of defamation is defined broadly and thus easily abused to silence critics of all sorts. Charges for rebellion are mostly based on the assumption that the accused is affiliated with either the FARC-EP or the ELN, which is in most cases an excuse in order to silence human rights activists or trade unionists. Many of those political prisoners have received sentences of up to 40 years. This as very disproportionate to the eight years that the AUC leaders received through Law 975 or the immunity that was granted to the guerrilla in the 1990s. The political machinery in Colombia is a very closed and opaque system and outsiders appear powerless. This leads to a double standard, making circumventing justice more possible if one belongs to certain groups within society. Crime and violence are still profitable methods to earn a living without risking being prosecuted for them.

Kerry-Luise Prior is a Doctoral Researcher, Department of War Studies, King’s College London. MA in International Peace and Security from King’s College London, LLM in Human Rights Law from Maastricht University, BA in European Studies from Maastricht University. Email:

[1] Lederach, Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies.123.

[2] Hans-Joachim Giessmann, “How to Transform Intractable Conflicts?,” Berghof Foundation,

[3] Ibid.

[4] Kimberly Theidon, Intimate Enemies: Violence and Reconciliation in Peru (University of Pennsylvania, 2012). 210.

[5] “Registro Único De Víctimas”.

[6] Sriram, Confronting Past Human Rights Violations. Justice Vs Peace in Times of Transition. 26.

[7] Amra Delić, “Academic Model of Trauma Healing in Post-War Societies,” Acta Medica Academica 43, no. 1 (2014). 76.

[8] Ibid.

[9] “Leave Us in Peace.” 1.

[10] “Colombia 2019,”  (Amnesty International, 2021). “Leave Us in Peace.”

[11] “Leave Us in Peace.” 2.

[12] “Estadísticas Del Conflicto Armado En Colombia,” Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica,

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] “Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2018,”  (UNHCR, 2019).

[16] Virginia M. Bouvier, ed. Colombia: Building Peace in a Time of War (Washington D.C.: United States Insitute of Peace, 2009).

[17] “Basta Ya!,”  (Bogotá: Historical Memory Group, 2013).

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Amnesty “Leave Us in Peace.” 2

[21] Ibid.

[22] Werner Hörtner, Kolumbien Verstehen (Zurich: Rotpunktverlag, 2006). 18.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid. 42.

[25] Fernán Gónzalez, Poderes Enfrentados: Iglesia Y Estado En Colombia (Bogotá: CINEP, 1997).

[26] Sandra Botero, “La Reforma Constitucional De 1936, El Estado Y Las Polí­Ticas Sociales En Colombia,” Anuario Colombiano de Historia Social y de la Cultura 33 (2006). 98.

[27] Botero, “Anuario Colombiano De Historia Social Y De La Cultura.” 90.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Bouvier, Colombia: Building Peace in a Time of War. 8.

[30] Gwen Burnyeat, Chocolate, Politics and Peace-Building (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). 6.

[31] Mats Berdal and David Ucko, Reintegrating Armed Groups after Conflict Politics, Violence and Transition (New York: Routledge, 2009). 10.

[32] Burnyeat, Chocolate, Politics and Peace-Building. 7.

[33] “El Quintín Lame, Proceso De Paz Exitoso Para Los Indígenas – Fundación Paz Y Reconciliación,” Pares,

[34] Burnyeat, Chocolate, Politics and Peace-Building. 7.

[35] “Decreto 3398/65,” ed. Presidente de la República de Colombia (1965). Article 3.

[36] “The Paramilitaries in Medellín: Demobilization or Legalization?,”  (Amnesty International, 2005). 4.

[37] Ibid. 4.

[38] “Ley 48 De 1993,” ed. El Congreso de la República de Colombia (1993). Article 3.

[39] Centro Nacional de Memoria Historica, Todo Pasó Frente a Nuestros Ojos

El Genocidio De La Unión Patriótica 1984-2002 (2018). 148.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Burnyeat, Chocolate, Politics and Peace-Building. 8.

[43] “Palabras Del Presidente Juan Manuel Santos En Acto Con La Unión Patriótica,” Presidencia de la República

[44] Berdal and Ucko, Reintegrating Armed Groups after Conflict Politics, Violence and Transition. 10.

[45] Some of the well-known ex-combatants are former M-19 members Gustavo Petro, former mayor of Bogotá and presidential candidate in the 2018 elections, as well as former leader of the M-19, Antonio Navarro Wolff, who has held the position of Mayor, Governor, Minister of Health and Senator in Colombia.

[46] “Smoke and Mirrors,” Human Rights Watch,

[47] Ibid.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Marc Pilisuk, “Disarmament and Survival,” in Handbook of Peace and Conflict Studies, ed. Charles Webel and Johan Galtung (Abingdon: Routledge, 2007); “Designation of the Auc as a Foreign Terrorist Organization,” U.S. Department of State,

[50] “Smoke and Mirrors”.

[51] Ibid.

[52] James Bargent, “Neo-Paramilitary Groups Consolidating in Colombia: Report,” InSight Crime, Adriaan Alsema, “Colombia’s Largest Neo-Paramilitary Group Agc Claims to Have 8,000 Members,” Colombia Reports, “Neoparamilitaries- What’s So New About Them?,” For Peace Presence, Berdal and Ucko, Reintegrating Armed Groups after Conflict Politics, Violence and Transition.

[53] “Basta Ya!.” 198.

[54] Amnesty “Leave Us in Peace.” 2.

[55] “Los Encuentros Secretos De Paz De Álvaro Uribe,” El Tiempo,

[56] “Los Ceses De Operaciones Militares De Uribe,” Semana,

[57] “Discurso Completo De Posesión De Juan Manuel Santos,” Semana,

[58] “Miembros De Las Farc Y El Eln Se Han Disminuido, Asegura Gobierno,” El Tiempo,

[59] “Preocupa El Número De Guerrilleros Del Eln,” Semana,

[60] Eduardo Pizarro Leongómez, “¿Es El Momento Para Reabrir Las Negociaciones De Paz Con El Eln?,” El Tiempo,

[61] “Constitución Política De 1886,” ed. Bolívar Los Delegatarios de los Estados Colombianos de Antioquía, Boyacá, Cauca, Cundinamarca, Magdalena, Panamá, Santander y Tolima, reunidos en Consejo Nacional Constituyente (Bogotá1886). Article 28.

[62] “Ley 37 De 1981,” ed. El Congreso de Colombia (1981). Article 1.

[63] “Decreto 2711 De 1982,” ed. El Presidente de la Republica de Colombia (1982).

[64] “Ley 35 De 1983,” ed. El Congreso de Colombia (1983). Articles 1 and 2.

[65] “Ley 49 De 1985,” ed. El Congreso de Colombia (1985). Article 2.

[66] For example, through Law 48 “Ley 48 De 1993.” “Crean Comité Antisicarial,” El Tiempo,

[67] Daniel Pardo, “Paz En Colombia: Por Qué Funcionó El Acuerdo Con El M-19 (Y Qué Diferencias Tiene Con El De Las Farc),” BBC,

[68] “Ley 77 De 1989,” ed. El Congreso de Colombia (1989). Article 3.

[69] Ibid. Article 6.

[70] Ibid. Articles 4 and 5.

[71] Pardo, “Paz En Colombia: Por Qué Funcionó El Acuerdo Con El M-19 (Y Qué Diferencias Tiene Con El De Las Farc)”.

[72] René Urueña, “Prosecutorial Politics: The Icc’s Influence in Colombian Peace Processes, 2003-2017,” The American Society of Interntional Law 111, no. 1 (2017). 106.

[73] Pardo, “Paz En Colombia: Por Qué Funcionó El Acuerdo Con El M-19 (Y Qué Diferencias Tiene Con El De Las Farc)”.

[74] “Decreto 356 De 1994,” ed. El Presidente de la Republica de Colombia (1994).

[75] “Sentencia No. C-296/95,” ed. Corte Constitucional República de Colombia (1995).

[76] “Sentencia C-572/97,” ed. Corte Constitucional República de Colombia (1997).

[77] “Decreto 1926 De 1990,” ed. El Presidente de la Republica de Colombia (1990). Article 7.

[78] “Decreto 213 De 1991,” ed. El Presidente de la Republica de Colombia (1991).

[79] Ibid.

[80] Ibid. Article 2.

[81] Ibid. Article 3.

[82] Ibid. Article 5.

[83] “Acuerdo General Para La Terminación Del Conflicto Y La Construcción De Una Paz Estable Y Duradera,” ed. Gobierno de la República de Colombia y la FARC-EP (2016).

[84] “Chile to Overturn Dictatorship-Era Amnesty Law,” Reuters,

[85] “Argentine Court Overturns “Dirty War” Pardon,” Reuters,

[86] “U.N. Tells Spain to Revoke Franco-Era Amnesty Law,” Reuters,

[87] “Constitucion Politica De Colombia 1991,” ed. Asamblea Nacional Constituyente de Colombia (1991). Article 150.

[88] Ibid. Transitory Article 30.

[89] Eduardo Garcia Martinez, “Se Desmovilicó El Francisco Garnica,” El Tiempo,

[90] “Acuerdo General Para La Terminación Del Conflicto Y La Construcción De Una Paz Estable Y Duradera.”

[91] “Decreto 1247 De 1997,” ed. El Ministro del Interior de la República de Colombia (1997). “Decreto 2087 De 1998,” ed. El Presidente de la Republica de Colombia (1998).

[92] “Third Report on the Human Rights Situation in Colombia,”  (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 1999).

[93] Sarah Miller Beebe and Randolph H. Pherson, Cases in Intelligence Analysis: Structured Analytic Techniques in Action (London: SAGE Publications, 2015). 162.

[94] Natalio Cosoy, “Has Plan Colombia Really Worked?,” BBC,

[95] “Decreto 2767 De 2004,” ed. El Presidente de la Republica de Colombia (2004). Articles 2 and 3.

[96] Ibid. Article 4.

[97] Rettberg, “Victims of the Colombian Armed Conflict: The Birth of a Political Actor.”

[98] Hernando  Salazar, “Desmovilizaciones En Colombia: Polémica Por Las Cifras,” BBC,

[99] “Leave Us in Peace.” 15.

[100] “Ley 975 De 2005,” ed. El Congreso de Colombia (Bogotá2005). Article 1.

[101] Ibid. Article 2.

[102] “Basta Ya!.”

[103] “Smoke and Mirrors”.

[104] Ibid.

[105] Ibid.

[106] Ibid.

[107] Ibid.

[108] Ibid.

[109] “Ley 975 De 2005.”Article 19.

[110] Ibid. Article 25.

[111] “Smoke and Mirrors”.

[112] “Ley 975 De 2005.” Articles 17 and 18.

[113] “Leave Us in Peace.” 16.

[114] “Ley 975 De 2005.” Article 50.

[115] Pilar Riaño Alcalá and María Victoria Uribe, “Constructing Memory Amidst War: The Historical Memory Group of Colombia,” International Journal of Transitional Justice 10, no. 1 (2016).

[116] Rettberg, “Victims of the Colombian Armed Conflict: The Birth of a Political Actor.”

[117] “Smoke and Mirrors”.

[118] Ibid.

[119] “Truth, Justice and Reparation: Fourth Report on Human Rights Situation in Colombia,”  (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 2013). 21.

[120] Ibid.

[121] Ibid.

[122] Ibid.

[123] “E/Cn.4/2005/102/Add.1,”  (United Nations; Economic and Social Council, 2005). Principles 2, 4 and 5.

[124] “Velasquez-Rodriguez Case, Judgment of July 29,”  (Inter-American Court of Human Rights, 1988).

[125] “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,”  (United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, 1976). Article 2(3)(a).

[126] “Smoke and Mirrors”; Urueña, “Prosecutorial Politics: The Icc’s Influence in Colombian Peace Processes, 2003-2017.” 108.

[127] “Prosecutorial Politics: The Icc’s Influence in Colombian Peace Processes, 2003-2017.” 107.

[128] Ibid. 109.

[129] Sanchez Nelson Camilo  Sanchez Leon, “Could the Colombian Peace Accord Trigger an Icc Investigation on Colombia?,” American Society of International Law 110 (2016).

[130] Ibid.

[131] Urueña, “Prosecutorial Politics: The Icc’s Influence in Colombian Peace Processes, 2003-2017.” 110-113.

[132] Sanchez Sanchez Leon, “Could the Colombian Peace Accord Trigger an Icc Investigation on Colombia?.”175.

[133] Daniel Brody, “Government Threatened Judges over Uribe’s 2006 Re-Election: Petro,”

[134] “Colombia Takes Steps on Killings but Security Forces Still Culpable,” UN News,

[135] “Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87) – Colombia (Ratification: 1976),” International Labour Organization,

[136] José Ariza and Hernán Ciprian, “Los Presos También Tosen,” Cerosetenta,