Colombia's FARC rebels cannot be submitted to the same judicial processes as common criminals under a possible peace deal, the Marxist group said on Friday. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) made the comments after President Juan Manuel Santos said in an interview that the biggest hurdle to signing peace would be getting the group to agree to face justice after 50 years of war.
You cannot give a treatment that was designed for criminal groups to rebels, the FARC said in a statement read by guerrilla negotiator Pablo Catatumbo at the start of the latest round of talks in Havana.
The president has said that justice is the problem. It's true that it is a problem of corruption, impunity and moral degradation, Catatumbo said.
The guerrillas have reiterated throughout the more than 2-year-old peace talks that they will not serve time in jail, while Santos has said there will be no deal that allows impunity for crimes like murder, rape, displacement and drug trafficking.
We want the maximum justice that allows us to achieve peace, Santos said earlier this week. Jail doesn't necessarily mean behind bars ... Jail can be defined in many ways.
Negotiators at the talks have so far reached partial accords on land reform, an end to the illegal drugs trade and political participation for former rebels. They are now tackling the thorny issues of victim reparations and demobilization.
Colombia has a transitional justice law, passed in 2005 to demobilize 30,000 right-wing paramilitary fighters. They received short jail terms in exchange for confessions, returning stolen land and compensating victims, but human rights groups say many of the promises were not met.
In related news on Thursday Colombia extended a suspension of air attacks on the FARC rebel movement amid a day of marches in support of peace. Tens of thousands waved white flags and paraded through cities across the country to support peace talks between the government and guerrillas and pay tribute to victims of the nation's half century of conflict.
Santos led more than 18,000 people through Bogota, marching alongside victims who suffered at the hands of leftist rebels and right-wing paramilitary groups.
Speaking at the presidential palace, Santos announced a one-month extension of the order he gave in March that the military suspend air attacks on camps of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
The two parties have been in negotiations in Havana since 2012 on ending their conflict. A new round of talks took off on Friday.