Latin America & Caribbean

Colombia pardons 30 Farc prisoners to speed peace talks

Handout picture provided by Colombian Presidency showing Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos (C), next to his collaborators during an event at Casa de Narino presidential palace in Bogota, Colombia, on 20 November 2015. Image copyright EPA
Image caption The Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos has urged a speeding up process for the peace talks in Havana.

The Colombian government says it will pardon 30 Farc guerrillas who are currently serving sentences in prisons across the country.

A government statement said the move was intended as a confidence-building measure in its peace talks with the rebel group.

It said none of the prisoners had been sentenced for major crimes.

Peace talks have been taking place in Cuba for the past three years to end the armed conflict in Colombia.

As the government's statement came out, Farc negotiators in Havana asked the government to go further and release fighters with health problems who were in jail.

Farc negotiator Ricardo Tellez said Farc prisoners in several jails had been holding protests and hunger strikes in 20 jails to highlight what they described as mistreatment from guards and a need for medical attention.

The government said that as part of its goodwill gesture it would establish brigades to examine 106 prisoners to ensure they received adequate medical attention.

Those Farc prisoners who were to be released would also receive psychological help and contact with social workers to prepare them for their release and to help them find work, it added.

During the peace talks Farc has made its own goodwill gestures to the government which include undertaking not to recruit children under 17, and helping with the de-mining of several mined areas.

Last week President Juan Manuel Santos sent his brother to Havana to talk to the Farc leader, Timochenko, to request a speeding up of the negotiations.

In September, both sides committed themselves to achieving a definitive peace accord by 23 March, 2016 but in recent weeks Farc negotiations have suggested they would not be ready.

Related Topics

More on this story