FARC Victims Want Truth Before Peace Talks Continue

The problem for FARC victims is that the Colombian government has also committed a large share of human rights abuses during its war with the FARC. State forces have been accused of killing thousands of peasants and of facilitating the actions of murderous paramilitary groups.

According to Chris Voelkel, a Colombia analyst at the International Crisis Group, this creates a situation where both sides have an incentive to mutually pardon each other, sweep human rights investigations under the rug, and move on to other areas of the negotiation such as rural development schemes and how to get FARC leaders to lay down their weapons.

"It would be painful for both sides to recognize that they have been murderers," Voelkel said.

But Ariel Avila, another analyst that we have spoken to about the peace talks, reckons that human rights groups within the country, and foreign governments that hand out aid to Colombia, have enough leverage over the Colombian government to stop such a deal from happening.

"Until the 1980s it was common for conflicts to end with amnesty laws," Avila said, mentioning that dictators in Brazil and Argentina stepped down in that decade, after full amnesty was granted to members of those regimes.

"International standards do not permit [such deals] any longer," Avila claimed.

In previous peace negotiations with right wing paramilitary groups, the Colombian government has implemented legal schemes that forced paramiltaries to tell the truth about actions like kidnappings and the mass execution of civilians, in exchange for reduced prison sentences.

These truth and reparation schemes have helped some victims of paramilitary groups to learn who killed their relatives, and to recover their remains from clandestine graves.

It remains to be seen if the FARC would accept such a deal, and what sort of concessions they would seek from the Colombian government, in exchange for participating in truth commissions.

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