Colombian right-wing paramilitaries say they will back out of peace negotiations with the government if legislation is approved calling for prison terms for group members who committed serious crimes.

Leaders of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) issued a statement Wednesday saying that if the legislature insists on forcing them into what they called a "humiliating" surrender to justice, they would rather continue fighting to the death.

The government sent a draft bill to Colombia's congress recently that would impose heavy penalties on AUC fighters. The measure is still being considered.

In recent years, the right-wing paramilitary group has been working with the government to disarm its fighters. The group has killed thousands of civilians in its illegal, 40-year war with Marxist rebels in Colombia.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.