Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) indicted ten former members of the FARC-EP for the recruitment of minors during the war they waged against the state until 2017. This is the first indictment of its kind against members of the former guerrillas. Magistrate Raúl Sánchez, in charge of the case, did not specify the number of minors who were forced to join the guerrilla ranks by the defendants, although he noted that the cases occurred mainly in the late 1990s and from 2011 until the year of disarmament.
The JEP is investigating the rebels who signed the 2016 peace deal for at least 18,667 cases of child recruitment during the five-decade armed uprising. In addition to the recruitments, the JEP charged the ten former guerrillas with other crimes against humanity, such as the use of anti-personnel mines and disappearances that affected aboriginal and peasant communities. They are also accused of war crimes such as homicide, executions without trial, displacement, and environmental destruction.
One of the most heinous cases the judge mentioned was that of an indigenous girl of the Nasa people, recruited at age 14, who was later executed on suspicion of being an informant. The JEP offers alternative sentences to prison for those who accept responsibility and make reparations to victims. In January 2021, the JEP indicted senior FARC-EP commanders for the kidnapping of 21,396 people between 1990 and 2016.
The former guerrillas accepted their responsibility and awaited punishment. In addition, dozens of ex-military personnel, including a general, will have to answer for the murder of 6,400 civilians who were executed by the army and presented as combat casualties in exchange for benefits, in the scandal known as “false positives.” The JEP expects to issue its first sentences later this year.
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