Colombian Gov. and FARC Move a Big Step Closer to a Final Peace Accord

A major breakthrough in the Colombian peace talks took place on Tuesday in Havana. Graphic:

HAVANA TIMES (dpa) — The Colombian government and the FARC insurgents agreed on Tuesday in Havana to create a special jurisdiction to judge crimes committed during the conflict of more than 50 years.

The agreement reached in Havana envisages the creation of a special court and an amnesty for political offenses, as well as alternative penalties for those tried for their actions during the long Colombian conflict.

The legislation excludes amnesties for crimes against humanity such as genocide and serious war crimes, as well as hostage-taking and other crimes.

Both sides want to sign a peace agreement no later than March 23, 2016, said president Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday in Havana, after his first meeting with FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño, alias “Timoshenko”. Both want to conclude the negotiations within a framework of 60 days.

The peace agreement that is reached must still be endorsed by all Colombians through a referendum.

What is still needed to reach a final accord

Still on the table for discussion are points such as a bilateral and definitive cease-fire, a review of the situation by the government of FARC prisoners and intensified government efforts to combat criminal organizations in the country.

In addition, a democratic method must be agreed upon that will give Colombians the ability to approve or oppose the accords reached in Cuba. The first step was taken last week with the submission to Congress of a draft reform to create mechanisms for the application of the final text.

Among the approval sought by the government are the implementing of a special legislative committee and the granting of extraordinary powers to the president for a period of 90 days which would allow him to call a referendum.