IACHR: Colombian Truth Commission Report Will Support National Reconciliation Process

July 12, 2022

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) congratulates Colombia's State and society for the release of the final report of the Commission for Truth, Coexistence, and Non-Recurrence. The IACHR acknowledges the work done by this commission to establish the truth of what happened during the internal armed conflict in Colombia and to support efforts to establish human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law in the country. The IACHR further welcomes efforts made to promote victim recognition and voluntary admission of individual and collective responsibilities by the people who took part in the armed conflict, as well as to foster coexistence in specific areas to support non-recurrence.

"The work of the Truth Commission is a legacy for all the Colombian people and confirms their choice of a future that acknowledges the factors that led to a period that was very difficult for the country, as well as the effects of that period. This historic moment is not the end of a cycle, but rather a starting point for a Colombia that is committed to victims and to remembrance of what happened," said Commissioner Julissa Mantilla Falcón, IACHR President and Rapporteur on Memory, Truth, and Justice.

On June 28, 2022, the IACHR attended the public presentation of the Truth Commission's final report, the outcome of an unprecedented extrajudicial investigation process into the causes and consequences of Colombia's internal armed conflict. Over three years and seven months, the Truth Commission listened to approximately 30,000 people in individual and collective interviews. Interviewees included victims, relatives of victims, eyewitnesses, armed actors involved in the conflict, civilian third parties, businesspeople, officers of law enforcement agencies, and former Colombian presidents, among other social and political stakeholders. The Truth Commission also launched a participatory process that included opening 28 "houses of truth" in various municipalities affected by the conflict and staging various events, talks and proceedings to ensure the end and non-recurrence of the armed conflict, to name the people responsible for crimes and dignify victims; and to make recommendations, among other aspects.

Based on an examination and analysis of the information it had access to, the Truth Commission found that, at least: 450,666 people were killed in the context of the armed conflict; 121,768 were victims of forced disappearances; 50,770 were kidnapped; 16,238 children and adolescents were recruited; 32,446 individuals were victims of violations of the right to sexual freedom and integrity; and around 8 million people were displaced, among various rights violations.

The Truth Commission's final report consists of 10 volumes that present in great depth its findings concerning conflict dynamics. The Commission also drafted an eleventh volume with a message to the country: the "Call for Broad-Based Peace." The IACHR notes that specific volumes address violence against women and LGBTI persons, as well as the role these groups played in peacebuilding and resistance efforts; the impact of the armed conflict on ethnic peoples and the disputes on land that belongs to these communities; the experience of Colombians who went into exile for reasons linked to the armed conflict; and the stories of children, adolescents, and young people who lived through the conflict.

In this context, the Truth Commission drafted recommendations on eight issues, to set an agenda to transform the country, end persisting armed disputes, overcome persistence factors, and support efforts to rebuild trust between society and institutions in order to get closer to reconciliation and ensure the non-recurrence of armed conflict. Over the next seven years, a Monitoring and Follow-Up Committee will evaluate the implementation of these recommendations.

The IACHR welcomes the plural, participatory dialogue undertaken by the Truth Commission, as a tool to facilitate historical truth and support national reconciliation within Colombian society. The IACHR particularly appreciates the adoption of differentiated multidisciplinary approaches, as an appropriate practice to disentangle the structural elements and multiple impacts of armed conflict on victims and on Colombian society as a whole. The Inter-American Commission is glad to have helped this major effort (based on its technical assistance mandate) and notes the report dissemination stage and the stage to adopt protocols for access to information produced by the Truth Commission.

Finally, the IACHR calls on the Colombian State to adopt the recommendations made in the Truth Commission's final report and to take its findings into consideration in the design and implementation of the various measures linked to the internal armed conflict. In this context, the IACHR stresses the relevance of the coordinated work done by all institutions in the Integrated System for Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Non-Recurrence and by other institutions charged with protecting victims' rights. The IACHR joins the Truth Commission's call for peacebuilding and its message of hope and a brighter future for Colombian society.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 154/22

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