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European Council Conclusions on Colombia.

Council conclusions on Colombia
2678th EU Council session - GENERAL AFFAIRS -
Luxembourg, 3 October 2005

The Council adopted the following conclusions:

"Following the enactment of the Justice and Peace Law by Colombia's President Uribe, the Council adopted the following conclusions.

1. The Council recalled and reaffirmed its conclusions of December 2004, which had inter alia expressed the European Union's total solidarity with the Colombian people, and its full support for the Colombian Government in its search for a negotiated solution to the internal armed conflict. The Council also recalled the Cartagena Declaration of February 2005, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chair Statement on Colombia of April 2005 and CHR resolution 2005/81 on impunity.

2. The Council re-iterated its call on all parties to the conflict to respect human rights and international humanitarian law, and repeated its call on all illegal groups to cease all hostilities and to engage in a negotiated peace process and to act accordingly. In this regard the Council welcomed President Uribe's recent initiatives to explore possible peace talks with the ELN and to approach the FARC. The Council underlined the necessity of a humanitarian agreement. The Council reiterated its demand that the illegal armed groups that still detain hostages release them immediately and unconditionally and demanded that they refrain from any future kidnapping. The Council stressed the importance of ensuring the safety of those individuals, organisations and institutions, including human rights defenders, working for the promotion and protection of human rights, and of protecting the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples.

3. The Council commended the work of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) in Colombia and urged a prompt implementation of its recommendations, as reflected in the Chair's statement on Colombia adopted by the Commission on Human Rights at its sixty-first session. The Council expressed the EU's willingness to discuss mid-year progress on implementation with the Colombian Government and the UNHCHR, within the framework of the G 24 in Bogota.

4. The Council recalled that its conclusions of December 2004 had called for the early adoption of a comprehensive legal framework for the process of disarmament, demobilisation and re-integration (DDR) of the illegal armed groups, and had underlined that such a framework should be in conformity with international commitments and should take into account the right of victims to truth, justice and reparation. The Council therefore regarded the Justice and Peace Law, adopted on 21 June by the Colombian Congress and enacted into law by President Uribe on 25 July, as a significant development, since it provides an overall legal framework for DDR in Colombia. The Council recognised that its adoption had come after a lengthy and thorough democratic parliamentary process. The Council acknowledged that in such situations a difficult balance has to be struck between peace (which includes giving sufficient incentives to illegal armed groups to disarm and demobilise) and justice (which requires truth and reparations for the victims and the punishment of those who have committed crimes).

5. The Council noted the concerns expressed by the UNHCHR and others that the law as finally enacted does not take into sufficient account the principles of truth, justice and reparation in accordance with internationally agreed standards. The Council shared many of these concerns including: the insufficient emphasis on the need for the effective dismantling of the collective paramilitary structures; the blurring of distinctions between "political" and other crimes; the short time allowed for the investigation of confessions, and for the investigation of title assets that may have been acquired as the result of illegal activities; the restricted opportunities allowed for victims to claim reparations; the limited maximum sentences for the most serious of crimes; and the heavy resource pressures on the Colombian legal system in coping with the demands of the new law.

6. Nevertheless the Council believed that if the Law was effectively and transparently implemented it would make a positive contribution to the search for peace in Colombia. The Council confirmed its willingness to work closely with the government, institutions and civil society of Colombia, as well as with the UNHCHR, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the G-24, and others who may be involved in monitoring the implementation of the judicial process established under the law. The Council welcomed the continued engagement of the Organisation of American States (OAS) in accompanying the demobilisation of the paramilitary groups.

7. The Council confirmed the readiness of the EU and its Member States to assist the Colombian government and civil society in providing support for: communities affected by the internal conflict; victims groups; local reconciliation activities; and the reinsertion and demobilisation of child soldiers, complementing existing programmes developed by UNICEF and others.

8. The Council believed that progress in these complementary areas, taken together with an effective and transparent implementation of the Justice and Peace Law and of the UNHCHR recommendations by the Colombian Government, would have a positive impact on peace-building in Colombia."

Source: Council of the European Union, Press Office, 03Oct05

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