Latin America & Caribbean

Colombia and Farc announce truth commission

Image copyright Oficina del Alto Commisionado para la Paz
Image caption The truth commission was announced at the end of the 37th round of peace talks in Havana

The Colombian government and Farc rebels say they will set up a truth commission if a peace deal is reached between them to end more than 50 years of conflict.

The commission would be independent, impartial and would hear from all sides in the conflict, said the statement.

The aim would be to explain the conflict to make sure it never happened again.

None of the evidence collected would be used in future trials.

A statement released after the current round of talks taking place in the Cuban capital, Havana, said that the commission would be established if or when both sides reached a peace accord.

The 37th round of talks had been delayed by a recent escalation of violence and the cancellation of Farc's unilateral December ceasefire.

The statement said that the truth commission would have three objectives:

  • To contribute to the clarification of what happened and offer a full explanation of the complexity of the conflict
  • To promote and contribute to the recognition of victims
  • To promote an atmosphere of dialogue

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on social media: "We celebrate the agreement in Havana of a truth commission. An important step. We need to keep advancing on other points."

Natalio Cosoy, BBC News, Bogota

This was a much needed breakthrough for both the government and Farc negotiators in Havana. Colombian society was starting to feel that the process was stalled.

The last significant announcement by both sides had been in March, when they agreed on a joint demining programme.

And it has been a long time since May 2014, when they last reached an agreement on one of the five major points on their agenda - an end to the illegal drugs trade.

The fact that they have managed to agree on the structure, scope and mechanism of a truth commission might give the peace process a much needed renewed momentum.

The commission is to be made up of 11 commissioners and will operate for three years with a six-month preparatory period.

After its final report is published a monitoring committee would be formed to implement the recommendations of the commission.

So far the government and Farc have reached partial accords on three of five peace agenda point - land reform, the political future of Farc and an end to the illegal drugs trade.

Still under discussion are victim reparations and the Farc's demobilisation.

If both sides reach a comprehensive agreement, it would be submitted to Colombian voters for endorsement.

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