National policy in Colombia to dismantle illegal armed groups positive step: India at UN

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United Nations, Jul 14 (PTI) India at the UN has said that the national policy in Colombia to dismantle illegal armed groups is a positive step to augment the presence of state institutions and expressed hope that a roadmap for its implementation will be formulated soon.

India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador T S Tirumurti, speaking at a Security Council briefing on UN Verification Mission in Colombia (UNVMC) on Tuesday, said that Colombia is witnessing “considerable progress” in the implementation of the Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace.

“Today, democracy in Colombia is deepening through increased political participation. The transitional justice system to ensure truth, justice and reparations to victims is making headway, particularly under the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and the Truth Commission,” he said, applauding efforts of the people and the Government of Colombia in realising the achievements of the last four years.

He said that the progress in the last three months towards the implementation of the Final Agreement has been positive, despite complex challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

Noting that authorities need to take measures to provide safeguards to ensure an inclusive political atmosphere, Tirumurti said the “national policy to dismantle illegal armed groups approved in March earlier this year is a positive step to augment the presence of state institutions, including the deployment of security forces.

“We hope that a roadmap to implement the national policy will be formulated soon. Integrated and enhanced presence of state authorities throughout the country is fundamental to lasting and durable peace,” he said.

Further, the ongoing rural reforms, reintegrating ex-combatants, providing land and effective implementation of illicit crop substitution programme need to maintain momentum.

He said it is important to ensure that the great majority of former combatants are involved in income-generating activities. Recently, progress made on allotment of land to ex-combatants for carrying out agriculture and rooting out use of illicit crops are welcome developments, he said.

Briefing the Council, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia Carlos Ruiz Massieu said the peace process in Colombia, almost five years after the signing of the Peace Agreement, is entering a crucial stage.

“It is increasingly evident, despite the many and persistent challenges, that the commitment and work of all the actors involved in this complex and noble task have borne fruit. Proof of this is the progress made by the entities of the transitional justice system created by the agreement. The participation of all, including the victims of conflict, has been key to this progress,” he said.

Massieu said Colombian society and institutions should view the implementation of the Final Agreement as an opportunity to help address many of the longstanding issues facing the country. Given the urgency to resolve these and other pending challenges, bold steps are needed to accelerate implementation in the coming months, he said.

“With a new electoral cycle quickly approaching, I invite the parties and all relevant actors to remain committed to the agreement and to continue prioritising dialogue to resolve their differences.

“It is precisely with this goal that the peace process enabled widened democratic spaces and guarantees for participation,” he said, adding he is confident the Colombian people will take advantage of a more robust democracy, and it will be incumbent upon institutions to protect those gains, as well as for political leaders from across the spectrum to commit to an environment of respect and non-stigmatisation in order to ensure the upcoming elections are peaceful and inclusive.

Tirumurti also underlined the strengthening of protection and security for former combatants is an important element of the peace process.

“Regular dialogue between former combatants and public security forces, including in the context of the Tripartite Mechanism for Security and Protection, could help provide timely and more effective responses to the problem,” he said, adding that more measures should be taken to ensure the security of social leaders and human rights defenders, particularly women leaders, indigenous and Afro-Colombian leaders.

India underscored that strengthening judicial capacity, particularly in the regions most affected by violence is also significant.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) of the Attorney-General’s Office should be provided with resources to strengthen the campaign against impunity.

“The work of the National Commission on Security Guarantees must be encouraged in order to make effective progress on the issue of dismantling illegal armed groups,” he said.

He also noted that the voluntary testimonies before the Truth Commission acknowledging the past crimes and seeking forgiveness is a welcome development and positively contributes to national reconciliation.

Tirumurti highlighted that India and Colombia, which celebrated 60 years of establishment of diplomatic relations in 2019, have now entered a new decade with the vision to further diversify and strengthen bilateral relations.

“As Colombia marches ahead in its journey towards peace, progress and prosperity, India, as Colombia’s long-standing friend and partner, will continue to stand in solidarity with the people and government of Colombia,” he added. PTI YAS CPS

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