Peace Week for Victims of the Colombian Conflict
This September (5 - 12) the Catholic Church in Colombia is celebrating Semana por la Paz - Peace Week in honour of the thousands of victims of the Colombian conflict under the heading ‘Integral Reparation; because no victim is a stranger’.
The aim of the annual Peace Week campaign is to raise awareness in Colombian society for the plight of the victims of the armed conflict and promote solidarity and a comprehensive reparations plan for them. It also highlights the efforts of thousands of people, the Catholic Church, Protestant Churches and faith-based organisations to achieve lasting peace and build on proposals to ensure that all Colombians can live a dignified life.
As a result of the prolonged internal armed conflict in Colombia, the civilian population has suffered grave human rights violations. These include: murder; massacres; forced disappearances; hostage-taking; forced recruitment; physical and psychological abuse; forced displacement; and a largely hidden epidemic of gender-based violence.
The Catholic Church believes that to achieve a lasting solution to Colombia’s internal armed conflict it is vital to give voice to the many thousands of victims of paramilitary, guerrilla, state, and other violence in Colombia and ensure their active participation in the road to constructing peace.
For this the victims of the conflict must have access to Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition.
At a recent event to launch this year’s Peace Week Monsignor Héctor Fabio Henao Gaviria, Director of the Social Department of the Bishops Conference, explained to journalist that
“what the country needs is public policy that responds to the need for a process of reparation that is just, fair, efficient, swift and proportional to the harm suffered by the victims of the armed conflict.”
"Lo que el país requiere hoy es una política pública que responda a las necesidades de una reparación que sea justa, equitativa, eficiente, rápida y proporcional frente al daño sufrido por las víctimas del conflicto armado."
However the defence and promotion of the rights of victims has not been a priority of the Colombian government. The judicial system is struggling to process 138,000 cases and threats against victims and human rights groups have also hindered their access to truth and justice. Little progress has been made to recover land and other assets illegally obtained by armed actors and to provide an integral reparation programme with the active participation of victims.
Peace cannot be achieved by the absence of war alone; the deep-rooted causes of the conflict must be addressed to secure lasting peace and create the conditions for reconciliation.
• Peace Week (Semana por la Paz) is organised by the Colombian Bishops Conference represented by the Social Department of the Colombian Catholic Church (SNPS/ Cáritas Colombiana), and REDEPAZ (Red de Inciativas por la Paz y Contra la Guerra).
• See the website Semana Por La Paz for more information and dates of activities and events (in Spanish only).
• Read a joint document by the Social Department of the Colombian Catholic Church (SNPS) and ABColombia agencies CAFOD, SCIAF, and Trócaire which examines the situation of the victims of the Colombian Conflict: ‘The Colombian Conflict: For the Rights of the Victims’
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