Ammunition

About 30,000 paramilitaries have been demobilized so far. However, more than 10,000 continue with attacks in the form of threats, kidnappings, selective killing and massacres.

Photo: The Advocacy Project

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Steps towards reconciliation

Published: 21 October 2009 Updated: 1 July 2014

For Colombia to develop, the armed conflict must come to an end. One step on that road is to disarm the illegal armed groups and help their members find a new role in society. But it is difficult to find solutions that both victims and perpetrators can accept.

There are three major illegal armed groups in Colombia. These are the guerrilla movements of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), and paramilitary groups.

To begin with, the guerrillas were fighting for a more equal society. Today, control of land and coca farming are important factors in perpetuating the internal armed conflict.

For a couple of years, the Organization of American States (OAS) has been working to promote the peace process in Colombia. Its MAPP programme is an important part of the work to create openness, to gather better information on demobilization of paramilitaries and their readjustment to society, and to support the Colombian government in its work.

Since 2004, Sweden has been supplying experts and financial support for the MAPP programme.

Difficult issues to solve

Many of the members in the paramilitary groups have committed serious crimes. But if they are to disarm, they must get something in return. At the same time, victims’ rights must also be upheld. The challenges therefore include finding ways to reduce sentences, meet demands for truth and justice, and ensure victims receive reparation. When the National Commission for Reparation and Reconciliation (CNRR) was formed in 2005, its task was to ensure that the victims were involved in the legal processes. The commission will also supervise the work of disarmament and reintegration.

Political and economic issues remain

About 30,000 paramilitaries have been demobilized so far. However, more than 10,000 continue with attacks in the form of threats, kidnappings, selective killing and massacres.

The paramilitary groups have shown themselves to have clear connections to the political and economic world. The major challenge for Colombia will be to ensure that these ties are severed. Pressure and support from the international community are important in these matters.

 

Page owner: Department for Europe and Latin America

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