FARC agrees to Colombia truth commission

Government and FARC agree to set up truth commission to address deaths of thousands of people over five-decade conflict.

    Colombia's government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have agreed to set up a truth commission that addresses the deaths of thousands of people in five decades of the country's conflict.

    The government and FARC also agreed during negotiations in Havana, the Cuban capital, to recognise victims on both sides of the conflict, as well as address victims' rights, reparations and safety guarantees.

    Preliminary truth commission panel hearings are due to start next month in several locations.

    "What we are announcing today is a historic step forward on the effort to put victims at the centre of the [peace] process," said leading government negotiator and former vice president Humberto de la Calle.

    "These principles are unprecedented, never heard of before in Colombia, or in any other peace process."

    The head of the FARC negotiation team told reporters on Saturday that the delegation felt they were getting closer to "the summit, the Mount Everest of rights, which is peace".

    Election ceasefire

    Negotiators pressed forward with talks eight days ahead of a run-off between centre-right President Juan Manuel Santos and his right-wing challenger Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, who has threatened to shut the peace process down.

    For the upcoming round of peace talks, some war victims will travel to Cuba to explain to both sides how they have suffered, the Reuters news agency reported.

    Both sides pledged to take responsibility for victims, a departure from the wartime rhetoric of blaming each other.

    Al Jazeera's Mariana Sanchez, reporting from the Colombian city of Sogamoso, said that Santos had hailed the agreement, saying that it will make the peace process move faster.

    She said that Zuluaga had said that the FARC should pay the victims with the money that he said they have been making out of drugs.

    The FARC also declared a ceasefire from June 9 to 30, the period that will cover the presidential run-off.

    The group had previously declared a week-long ceasefire around the period covering the first round of elections on May 25, in which Zuluaga won more votes than other candidates, but fell far short of the 50 percent of votes needed to avoid a run-off. 

    Talks in Havana to end the 50-year-old conflict that has killed around 220,000 people over five decades, have been under way since November 2012.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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