Colombia’s Congress passed a law on Wednesday offering amnesty to thousands of demobilizing Marxist guerrilla fighters accused of minor crimes in the country’s decades-long civil war.
The move is a key part of a revised peace deal between the government and the FARC rebels. It sailed through Congress after the right-wing opposition abstained from voting.
“It means that the path is clear to guarantee the demobilization and disarmament of FARC members in the first half of next year,” said Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo. “It’s no more and no less than the end of a 52-year conflict with the FARC. The FARC’s abandonment of arms is now in the hands of the United Nations so that the entire process of implementing the accords can begin.”
Some 7,000 FARC fighters are expected to lay down their arms over the next six months. Those found guilty of war crimes will not be eligible for the amnesty.
After four years of talks, the government and FARC agreed on a revised peace deal late November after the last one was rejected in a referendum. The conflict has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions.