Child soldiering & Colombia peace talks

fey‘[T]here seems to be agreement that the shape of a deal will require some form of conditional pardon or suspended sentence for the rank and file, many of whom were recruited as child soldiers.’

– Transitional justice expert Naomi Roht-Arriaza, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, in an IntLawGrrls post entitled “Colombian peace talks advance, but raise difficult justice issues.” Naomi recaps her own presentation last week to judges in Colombia, “on how comparative experiences can help inform the difficult choices the country will need to make in order to finalize a peace deal with the armed insurgents (FARC and ELN) and bring an end to over 50 years of armed conflict.” She then proceeds to discuss initiatives like the prosecutions under the Justice and Peace Law (sentencing in one expected tomorrow), and further to survey issues on the table as the country tries to bring insurgency to an end. (credit for photo (c) Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, courtesy of Watchlist)

Blanket amnesty is not likely on the table despite talk of “conditional pardon,” Naomi reports. This is in part because Colombian negotiators understand that this would not be looked on with favor by two crucial international bodies: the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, to which Colombia belongs by dint of its 1973 ratification of the 1969 American Convention on Human Rights, and the International Criminal Court, which in 2004 launched a preliminary investigation into actions on the territory of Colombia, an ICC state party.

Naomi’s implication that ICC monitoring since 2004 is shaping the form of eventual peace bears note. So too her indication that grappling with the past recruitment of children in Colombia – a phenomenon explored here and here – poses questions not unlike those voiced in my post yesterday.

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