Colombian peace process requires involvement of companies

Image: Slachtoffers van bloedkolen Guillermo Almanza Cañante (78) en Nilsa Muñoz Almanza (83). Foto © Ronald de Hommel / PAX

October 5, 2015

PAX welcomes the agreement on transitional justice that was announced last week as part of the peace process between the Colombian government and the FARC. In particular, the emphasis on truth finding and reconciliation offers a sign of hope for the hundreds of thousands of victims of human rights violations in the country, including the victims of blood coal.

The provisional partial agreement entails the setting up of a transitional justice framework. Those who have taken part in the conflict, either directly or indirectly, could be called upon to make full disclosure before a tribunal or truth commission. Those who fail to fully cooperate with the tribunal run the risk of being tried by the regular courts, where they might face a custodial sentence of up to 20 years.

Role for business owners and managers
High Commissioner for Peace and chief negotiator Sergio Jaramillo has previously stated that business owners and managers must have a role in the truth finding and remedy for the victims. PAX sincerely hopes that the implementation of the agreement on Transitional Justice will be in line with this statement. In the PAX investigation ‘The Dark Side of Coal‘ perpetrators and witnesses stated that the mining companies Drummond and Prodeco have supported paramilitaries in the Cesar mining region with funds and strategic information. In the mining region of Cesar at least 3000 people have been murdered and 50,000 farmers driven off their land.

Thousands of criminal investigations
The Attorney General’s Office in Colombia is said to be planning criminal investigations into several thousand company executives for alleged funding of illegally armed groups. PAX believes that not only the Colombian government and the FARC, but also the national and international business community must take responsibility for reconciliation – truth finding, acknowledgement, reparation and guarantees of safety – in the country. For example, by demonstrating public support for these developments.

Reconciliation dialogue
Recently European energy companies have launched a so-called action plan, in which they call on the mining companies Drummond and Prodeco “to take part in a reconciliation dialogue, initiated by the Colombian government, with the victims and other actors in the armed conflict in Colombia”. The representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia will shortly begin an exploration into the possibilities for such a dialogue.

Now that the peace negotiators have so clearly stated the importance of truth finding and remedy, the mining companies can no longer lag behind. For them, the time has come to become part of the new, hopeful direction the country is moving into, and to accept their responsibilities towards the victims of blood coal.

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