Amnesty for FARC rebels sails through Colombian Congress

Bogota, Dec 29 (IANS) Not a single “no” vote was cast on Wednesday as both houses of Colombia’s Congress approved a bill granting amnesty to members of the FARC guerrilla group who lay down their arms under the peace accord signed last month.

The initiative also offers legal guarantees for police and soldiers who committed crimes in the context of an armed conflict that began in 1964, Efe news agency reported.

“With 69 votes in favour and zero opposed the full Senate approves the Amnesty Law. The bill passes now to the Constitutional Court for their review,” Senate Chief Mauricio Lizcano said on Twitter.

The lower house passed the bill by a margin of 121-0.

The amnesty applies to security force members and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) fighters as long as they are not accused of committing offenses classified as crimes against humanity under the UN Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

More than 6,000 FARC combatants indicted for political offences including rebellion and conspiracy are expected to benefit from the measure.

In a video message, the armed forces commander, Gen. Juan Pablo Rodriguez Barragan, expressed gratitude for congressional approval of a bill “so important” to the military.

Analysts say that once the bill is signed into law by President Juan Manuel Santos, FARC fighters are likely to have more confidence about gathering in the designated demobilization zones.

–IANS

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