“It would take 17 years to give each of the victims [of the conflict in Colombia] a minute of silence”.
This quote of Reverend De Roux makes us grasp the terror of the civilian toll of the conflict in Colombia. At least 450,000 people have lost their lives – while the real numbers, as always, are likely to be higher.
We thank you, Norway and Colombia for organizing today’s Arria-formula meeting enabling us to discuss the truth of the Conflict in Colombia as established over years of work, research and interviews by the Truth Commission. In order to move beyond the conflict, we need to know what happened, to ensure transitional justice and to fully implement the Peace Agreement.
I appreciate the presence of Reverend De Roux, of Special Envoy Gilmore, of Ms. Acosta, of Ms. Rivera and of Minister Ramirez. I would like to thank them for their insightful remarks on this painful process, which should, hopefully, lead to healing and reconciliation.
The Colombian peace process took the historic step to place redress for its victims at its core. Under Chapter 5 of the Peace Agreement FARC and the Colombian Government undersigned their commitments to ceasefire and peacebuilding, dedicated to victims and the truth.
We strongly believe that the Comprehensive System for Truth, Justice, Reparations and Non-Recurrence has the most innovative and ambitious mechanisms that could bring an end to the suffering of millions of Colombians. It has the potential to end impunity, improve respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, and create guarantees for non-recurrence, co-existence and reconciliation.
Madame President, dear colleagues,
One week ago, the Municipal Theater in Bogotá was overcrowded with people who were gathered there not to watch the premiere of the next show, but to hear Rev. Francisco De Roux present the long-awaited Final Report of the Truth Commission, following years of research and extensive dialogue with thousands of victims. This report means the world to so many people, so many victims, so many families, who finally see their stories made public, their facts established, their suffering helping others. Finally, we have a clear account of six decades of atrocities and human rights violations committed during the country’s armed conflict.
The shear extent of the conflict is shocking: Millions of Colombians, children, women and men, particularly from rural communities, indigenous peoples, the Afro-Colombians, the LGBTI population, and other vulnerable groups have endured brutal violence, have been massacred, forcibly displaced, disappeared, sexually abused and violated under an expression of power aimed to intimidate and spread terror.
It is our hope that this process and the Truth Commission Report will serve as the basis for the long-needed reconciliation, for solutions and non-repetition, peacebuilding and prosperity of the country, taking into account victim’s rights and gender perspective.
As stipulated by the agreement, trust can only be regained through full elucidation and recognition of the truth. And with re-established trust, we believe the people of Colombia will be able to re-commit to one another, to institutions, to democratic values, to the rule of law, to peacebuilding and development.
In another milestone for the transitional justice, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, created to ensure accountability for the atrocities in Colombia, has made significant progress with the public hearings on acknowledgement of truth and responsibility. This constitutes an important step towards restorative sentences, contributing to victim’s rights.
As we stated previously, we believe that a stronger focus on conflict-related sexual violence and the opening of a dedicated special case for such crimes would be important to bring justice to the thousands of victims, women, men, and children. Accountability is key to reconciliation and to the restauration of a more peaceful society. It will bring justice to the victims of the conflict and their families, it will help them find closure, reconcile with the past and move forward.
Finally, allow me to reiterate Albania’s full support for Colombia and its people in their path toward stability, peacebuilding and reconciliation, with human rights at the center.