Accessibility links

Colombia to Pardon 30 Rebels as Peace Deal Looms

  • VOA News

FILE - Soldiers escort three suspected rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) who allegedly surrendered to the army, in Medellin, Colombia, September 20, 2012.

FILE - Soldiers escort three suspected rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) who allegedly surrendered to the army, in Medellin, Colombia, September 20, 2012.

The Colombian government says it is granting pardons to 30 jailed members of the Marxist rebel group known as FARC - a confidence building gesture as it negotiates a treaty with rebels to end more than five decades of war.

The move, announced Sunday in Bogota, is the latest in a series of preliminary agreements unveiled in recent months as negotiators from both sides meeting in Havana close in on a peace deal.

President Juan Manuel Santos has set a target date of March 2016 for a final treaty.

A statement from Santos' office said none of the inmates has been convicted of violent crimes. It also says teams of health workers will evaluate the inmates, who will then receive psychological help, job training and aid for their families as the former combatants reintegrate into society.

In September, government negotiator Humberto de la Calle said both sides will "definitely" meet an agreed upon March 23 deadline for a treaty.

Weeks after the announcement, negotiators from both camps unveiled a breakthrough deal aimed at officially determining the fate of tens of thousands of people missing and presumed dead in the conflict, which erupted in 1964.

FILE - Cuba's President Raul Castro (C) encourages Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (L) and Commander the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC, Timoleon Jimenez, to shake hands, in Havana, Cuba, Sept. 23, 2015.

FILE - Cuba's President Raul Castro (C) encourages Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (L) and Commander the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC, Timoleon Jimenez, to shake hands, in Havana, Cuba, Sept. 23, 2015.


Under that protocol, both sides will furnish data on the missing to Colombia's National Institute of Legal Medicine and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The Red Cross, in turn, will design a search program.

Colombian authorities say at least 51,000 people have gone missing since the outbreak of hostilities, while victims' groups place the missing toll as high as 100,000.

Full government tallies show 220,000 people killed and millions more displaced in the continent's longest war.

Government and FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) envoys have been engaged in peace talks sponsored by Cuba and Norway for the past three years.

XS
SM
MD
LG