press release oidhaco: Bilateral ceasefire: hopes made real?

Oidhaco press release. The bilateral ceasefire is necessary for the strengthening of the peace process and to prevent further victims of the armed conflict. The start of formal negotiations with the ELN would be a further step forward in the ongoing peace
Brussels, January 26, 2015. The International Office for Human Rights – Action on Colombia (OIDHACO) welcomes recent announcements and progress made in the peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrilla. We also welcome statements made by both President Juan Manuel Santos and a spokesperson from the National Liberation Army (ELN), which show mutual willingness to make progress in the dialogues initiated several months ago by finalizing the negotiation agenda between the two parties.

On December 20, 2014, as proof of its commitment to the success of the process, the FARC declared a unilateral and indefinite cease fire. For his part, President Juan Manuel Santos, after “recognizing that the FARC has complied” with the unilateral cease fire, revealed last week that he had instructed his delegates on the negotiating table to begin discussions “as soon as possible” to move towards a “bilateral and definitive ceasefire to the hostilities” with the FARC guerrilla.

OIDHACO supports these efforts towards a negotiated solution to the Colombian armed conflict and recognizes that the parties have given positive and unequivocal signs of progress in the negotiation process: the country is certainly at a unique moment in its history.

OIDHACO calls on both parties to urgently make real the conditions for a bilateral ceasefire, given that the lessening of hostilities and the de-escalation of the armed conflict will mean a reduction in the number of casualties caused by the conflict, thus benefiting civil society, reducing tensions at the negotiating table and building confidence in Colombian citizens.

OIDHACO invites the European Union and the international community, to support the peace talks between the Colombian government with the FARC and to take all diplomatic efforts possible to encourage the materialization of the talks with the ELN.

OIDHACO reiterates the need for European countries to support the initiatives of civil society to allow the construction of lasting peace in Colombia and calls for guarantees for victims’ rights to truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition. Civil society organisations have been working for peace for many years and contributing to numerous proposals for improving the situation of millions of Colombians. Their recommendations must be heard and discussed as part of this process. European countries can play a key role in supporting and making visible these voices, so that peace can become a reality for all Colombians.