Colombia war victims demand justice, truth as peace talks advance

Fri Oct 2, 2015 2:24pm EDT
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By Anastasia Moloney

BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Colombians uprooted from their homes, abducted or bereaved in the country's five-decade civil war have reacted with hostility or grudging acceptance to a breakthrough agreement between the government and FARC rebels on justice for war crimes.

President Juan Manuel Santos, in an interview with Reuters, said he had to give more ground on the thorny issue of justice than many Colombians would like, to ensure that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) would lay down their weapons and end the conflict.

Santos and FARC leader Rodrigo Londono, better known as Timochenko, agreed last week to create special courts to try guerrillas and members of the military, with a maximum eight-year detention to be imposed on those who admit to war crimes.

Some Colombian politicians, led by former President Alvaro Uribe, and human rights groups have said the deal amounts to impunity for criminals.

And many ordinary Colombians, caught up in a war that has killed some 220,000 people, feel the same.

Piedad was 19 when she was recruited at gunpoint into guerrilla ranks and held as a sex slave to leftist rebels in a FARC camp for three months before managing to escape during an army bombing raid.

"Every day five to eight men would take turns and do what they wanted to my body. My wounds haven't healed and will remain with me for my entire life," said Piedad, now 45, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"For them (the FARC) to just get eight years, in what's not even a proper jail, isn't nearly enough for raping girls over and over again and all the other vile abuses they've committed,"   Continued...