On International Day of Peace 2016, we reiterate our welcoming of the recent signature of the peace agreement between the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). It represents a fundamental step towards ending more than 50 years of armed conflict which left eight million victims. The agreement has been the product of the struggle and work of decades by human rights organisations, victims and Colombian social organisations. PBI is proud to have accompanied them during this long, difficult and dangerous job, which took the lives of many people.
But peace is more than signing an agreement, and for Colombian society to heal and for its violence to assuage, the road is still long and fraught with uncertainties.
Furthermore, on 2nd October, the agreement will need to pass a referendum. Then will come implementation, and the Office in Colombia of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights warns that “There are repeated attacks against victims’ representatives, especially those bringing cases for violations attributable to State agents”. Indeed, thirteen human rights defenders were killed in a three week period after the signing of the agreement.
A few of the Human Right Defenders we accompany highlight their hopes as well as the biggest challenges that lie ahead:
Father Javier Giraldo: “The country has already lived 33 years of failed peace processes [...] A long tradition demonstrates that the agreements are not being implemented and that rebel fighters are eliminated after disarmament, but not only them, also the social and political forces that are close to them.” Read the full interview with Father Giraldo here
Ivan Madero (president of the Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights): “A big challenge […] is putting into practice the dismantlement of the neo-paramilitary structures. […] the post-agreement phase we will come face to face with these structures, which will make it complicated […] for the social movement and human rights defenders and organisations to accompany the implementation of the agreements.” Read the full interview with Ivan Madero here
Fabian Laverde (COS-PACC): “[…] afro-descendant [people], indigenous [and] farmers […] are the people who have been most affected by the conflict in the dynamics of their territory. […] It is time to end the armed conflict, but unfortunately its causes have yet to disappear. This implies the genuine implementation of social policies, especially for vulnerable populations.” Read the full interview with Fabian Laverde here