University of Minnesota

Report on the Demobilization Process in Colombia, Inter-Am. OEA/Ser.L/V/II.120, Doc. 60 (2004).



95. The IACHR is aware, given the magnitude, duration, and complexity of the internal armed conflict in Colombia, that there are no easy answers, and that the search for political solutions to deactivate the factors and groups participating in the internal armed conflict is fundamental. This requires substantive proposals which, based on such a difficult reality, will assist the peace process, an initiative that all very much hope will make progress in Colombia.

96. Despite the commitment to a cessation of hostilities by the AUC, acts of violence against and intimidation of the civilian population continue. Deactivating the complex network of illegal armed groups that have joined the armed conflict in Colombia requires putting an end to the constant succession of acts of violence by paramilitary groups, whether or not part of the process, and the guerrillas, against the civilian population; and ensuring that these crimes are properly clarified in the courts. The consequences of the violence and displacement for hundreds of thousands of victims of the conflict and their exclusion from the process of seeking a negotiated solution stand in the way of the search for truth and access to justice and reparation.

97. The members of the paramilitary fronts involved in the process of demobilization now being fostered by the government have been repeatedly accused of responsibility for serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including massacres of defenseless civilians, selective assassinations of social leaders, trade unionists, human rights defenders, judicial officers, and journalists, among others, acts of torture, harassment, and intimidation, and actions aimed at forcing the displacement of entire communities. In some cases the Inter-American Commission and the Inter-American Court have established the responsibility of the State, as these grave violations of the American Convention on Human Rights were perpetrated with the acquiescence of state agents.

98. The organs of the inter-American system, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and human rights organizations in Colombia and abroad have made statements to the effect that the process of demobilization should be accompanied by guarantees of respect for the international obligations of the State. For the time being, the process has moved forward without the support of a comprehensive legal framework that clarifies the conditions under which persons responsible for committing human rights violations are to demobilize, or their relationship with the peace process. No efforts have yet been identified to establish the truth of what has happened and the degree of official involvement in paramilitarism. In addition, the issue of reparation for the harm caused to the victims of acts of violence and displacement, including control over lands, does not appear to be addressed with appropriate levels of participation. The conditions under which the members of illegal armed groups join the demobilization process should be closely monitored to ensure it does not become a conduit towards impunity.

99. In view of the foregoing, the IACHR recommends the adoption of a comprehensive legal framework that establishes clear conditions for the demobilization of illegal armed groups, in accordance with the State’s international obligations. This legal framework should provide for the situation of those who have joined processes for individual and collective demobilization to clarify their situation. Moreover, genuine mechanisms of participation should be put in place, in secure conditions, for the victims of the conflict, so as to ensure access to truth, justice, and reparation.

100. The efforts at peacemaking and demobilization of armed groups should be strengthened on the basis of legitimacy and participation, so as to offer the beneficiaries a genuine opportunity for reintegration into society and guarantees of protection in the face of possible violent reprisals. This legitimacy should in turn be nurtured through a real commitment vis-à-vis the agreements reached in light of international standards, to end the use of violence and intimidation against the civilian population, to submit to the law, and to provide reparations for the victims. The development of a culture of peace, tolerance, respect for the law, and rejection of impunity requires the participation of all Colombians, in particular those who have directly suffered the consequences of the conflict. It is an endeavor that must be consolidated on the basis of truth, justice, and reparation.

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