A key challenge facing the Colombian peace process is how to secure peace while simultaneously guaranteeing victims’ rights. In July 2012 the Colombian Congress adopted the Legal Framework for Peace, a package of transitional justice mechanisms designed to facilitate negotiations, prevent impunity for serious war-related crimes and provide guarantees to victims. Under the Framework the principles of prioritisation and selection are to be applied to the bringing of criminal proceedings, i.e. for deciding in which situations and according to which criteria some offences may be prioritised over others and even whether criminal investigations might focus solely on the main perpetrators of war-related crimes. This is the minimum threshold that should be demanded of both the Colombian state (especially the armed forces) and the FARC Secretariat.
The Framework also makes provision for a truth commission to investigate the extremely serious crimes committed in Colombia and leaves in the state’s hands a number of important instruments that allow a flexible approach to be taken regarding the punishment of crimes committed by armed actors. The granting of such benefits will be subject to those being demobilised making significant contributions to achieving lasting peace and securing truth and reparation for victims.