According to information provided by Enrique Gil Botero, Colombia’s Minister of Justice, the National Government has given the go ahead for a third amnesty decree, as provided for in the country’s “Law of Amnesty”, part of the accord with former FARC guerrillas. The amnesty has provided another 3,252 FARC members with “presidential amnesty”, a designation given to FARC members in former conflict zones by presidential decree. The number of FARC guerrillas given amnesty by decree is now at 6,005.
The amnesty decrees immediately halt any state criminal proceedings and absolve the guerrillas of any criminal penalties, probation, or fines. The decrees can only be applied to members or former members of the FARC terrorist organization.
The accords also provide for application of the law through what is called “judicial amnesty”. This process applies to criminals who have already been prosecuted and imprisoned and are affiliated with the FARC. More than 1,400 criminals have been released from prison in 2017 as part of this judicial amnesty. Together with the presidential amnesty, 7,405 FARC guerrillas have been pardoned of their crimes and are free to enter Colombian society.
Some of the criminals who have bene pardoned were being held for serious crimes, including kidnapping, extortion and murder. The FARC accords call for released members to be given training programs and a base salary in order to assist their reintegration into society. Critics, however, have pointed out that pardoning convicted criminals sends the wrong message to other terrorist groups, and is an insult to the victims of their crimes.