Colombia FARC rebels say they cannot be judged as 'common criminals'

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 10, 2015 4:59 PM

HAVANA (Reuters) - Colombia's FARC rebels cannot be submitted to the same judicial processes as "common criminals" under a possible peace deal, the Marxist group said on Friday.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) made the comments after President Juan Manuel Santos said in an interview that the biggest hurdle to signing peace would be getting the group to agree to face justice after 50 years of war.

"You cannot give a treatment that was designed for criminal groups to rebels," the FARC said in a statement read by guerrilla negotiator Pablo Catatumbo at the start of the latest round of talks in Havana.

"The president has said that justice is the problem. It's true that it is a problem of corruption, impunity and moral degradation," Catatumbo said.

The guerrillas have reiterated throughout the more than 2-year-old peace talks that they will not serve time in jail, while Santos has said there will be no deal that allows impunity for crimes like murder, rape, displacement and drug trafficking.

"We want the maximum justice that allows us to achieve peace," Santos told Reuters this week. "Jail doesn't necessarily mean behind bars ... Jail can be defined in many ways."

Negotiators at the talks have so far reached partial accords on land reform, an end to the illegal drugs trade and political participation for former rebels. They are now tackling the thorny issues of victim reparations and demobilization.

Colombia has a transitional justice law, passed in 2005 to demobilize 30,000 right-wing paramilitary fighters. They received short jail terms in exchange for confessions, returning stolen land and compensating victims, but human rights groups say many of the promises were not met.

(Reporting by Nelson Acosta; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Richard Chang)