ABColombia Welcomes Colombia’s Truth Commission Report
And Remembers the Victims
1 July 2022
ABColombia welcomes the launch, on 28 June 2022, of the Truth Commission’s Report. The final report of the Truth Commission for the clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-repetition (la Comisión para el Esclarecimiento de la Verdad, la Convivencia y la No repetición), Si Hay Futuro Si Hay Verdad (There is a Future if there is Truth) covers the Colombian conflict between the years 1958 to 2016. The Truth Commission is one of three mechanisms established by the 2016 Peace Accord between the FARC-EP and the Colombian State as part of Colombia’s Transitional Justice System.
The Truth Commission Report seeks to clarify the root causes of almost six decades of violence in Colombia. It spent three and a half years listening to the voices of victims and survivors of the conflict, some of whom were forced to flee Colombia with their families and are now living in countries around the world – yet still working for peace in Colombia.
ABColombia recognises the rigorous work undertaken by the Truth Commission and the courage of victims of the conflict who were willing, despite the pain of reliving those moments, to present their testimonies to the Truth Commission. We commends the Colombia Truth Commission for its work, particularly to amplify the voices of victims and survivors in Colombia and exiled abroad.
Testimonies of violations committed during the internal armed conflict were given to the Truth Commission from victims from around the world. These were documented, analysed, and this analysis seeks to establish collective responsibilities for such violations, and explain the root of the conflict between the Colombian State and the former FARC-EP left wing guerrilla group.
These are the words (unofficial translation) of an 18-year-old young woman, a victim of the AUC Metro Bloc in 1997. The Commission has documented various forms of sexual and gender-based violence committed during the armed conflict, including rape, sexual slavery, threats of rape, sexual harassment, forced nudity and degrading practices such as sexual humiliation (unofficial translation).
Sexual violence was used by all armed actors in the conflict, legal and illegal, as a weapon of war during the conflict “there was a girl who was the girlfriend of a commander or the wife of a commander [of the FARC-EP] they [paramilitaries] tied her up in the middle of the square, naked, and cut off her breasts to sow terror in the region”.
The report explains the consequences of the conflict for social, economic, political, cultural and environmental rights. Truth is fundamental for building peace, and the Truth Commission’s Final report makes a huge contribution to building a stable peace, and a sustainable future with the rights of victims at the center. It is a milestone in the implementation of the Peace Accord and can, if its recommendations are implemented, make a considerable contribution to lasting peace.
This report is the beginning of a long journey, one that needs the support and accompaniment of the international community, its recommendations need to be implemented. It is one of three mechanisms whose joint work aims to prevent repetition.
The Colombian conflict has been brutal beyond the imagination of many of us, this report seeks to acknowledge the truth and the pain suffered by so many ordinary civilians – mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, cousins…friends, and to explain why this happened…the question on the lips of every victim.
The report states that over 450,664 people were killed between 1985 and 2018, at least 121,768 people were disappeared, about 55,770 were kidnapped between 1990 and 2018, and at least 7.7 million people were displaced between 1985 and 2019.
‘Without truth, reconciliation is not possible. Without reconciliation, the risk of repetition remains real.‘ (UNOHCHR)
The ongoing pain of many victims of the disappeared, is explained a little by Elisabeth whose husband was disappeared (Video below but only in Spanish at the moment). Of the disappeared, the remains of 7,732 individuals had been given to the families of the victims (as of April 2021). In total, according to the Attorney General’s Office in April 2021, there were at least 10,499 child victims of enforced disappearances.
Listen to the stories of some of the victims
Elisabeth Santander talks about the continued hope of the families of the disappeared for a miracle (audio is in Spanish).
Amparo (audio in English) Presented what happened to her family in parliament