Congress contested the moral and binding demands of the Commission

“Congress contested the moral and binding demands of the Commission”: Francisco de Roux r

During the first week of May, Congress debated approving the National Development Plan the government of Gustavo Petro. The recommendations of Final Report of the Truth Commission They were set out in Article 8, which established compliance by the competent bodies. The Senate voted to delete the article, and the House of Representatives approved the article, with the following change: The recommendations are adopted “consistent with the provisions and limitations of the political constitution and applicable laws.”

A number of former commissioners issued a statement against the decision of the Congress of the Republic They called for the 67 recommendations made to be considered as a way to curb violence and as a society to commit to non-recurrence in Colombia. The former commissioners also emphasize that these recommendations arose from the systematization of 14,971 testimonials from more than 30,000 people which have been heard in different parts of the country and represent different sectors of society.

Also read: Former truth commissioners are asking to accept recommendations even if they are not in the PND

In an interview with Colombia +20, Former President of the Truth Commission, Francisco de Roux, provided his reflections and arguments on the unease caused by the actions of Congress in the light of the recommendations of this Comprehensive System for Peace body.

How did you take Congress’s decision to remove Article 8 of the National Development Plan, which contained the recommendations of the Truth Commission?

I accepted this decision with sadness. I felt a blow was dealt to a process that the state had set up under the transitional justice system to advance the qualitative leap towards peace envisaged in the agreement between the state itself and the FARC. I have felt the disappointment and outrage of thousands of people who have contributed to the work of the Truth Commission.

What is the reason for your unease about this Congressional decision?

The Commission’s recommendations are not institutionally binding and therefore Congress had no legal obligation to adopt them. The decision of Congress is legally legitimate. It’s a result of democracy. You have to respect it. In the debate, the House of Representatives voted to keep Article 8, the Senate voted to abolish it, and eventually the Senate’s will prevailed.

The virtue and strength of the Truth Commission in the public sphere lies in a public ethics orientation that is fleshed out in recommendations, and the decision of Congress directly violates this moral virtue. The Commission has created an ethical rather than a legal bond and made it binding for the discussion of the concrete changes that the country needs to make. Congress denied this moral bond.

What do you mean by morally binding?

In Decree 588, which emerged from the Colón Accords, the Commission was tasked with clarifying the historical, ethical and political truth of more than half a century of internal armed conflict. For four years the Commission suffered the tragedy of millions of casualties on all sides and the uneasiness of personal and institutional responsibility. The result was the clarification reached by the commission: either we choose to live as human beings, or hopelessness and horror remain as an eternal legacy for the children of Colombia. The result is a public moral outcry against the intolerable. This is the moral bond that Congress wanted to break.

What do you think is the reason for this decision by Congress?

Because of the political game of democracy, which is fraught with very deep fractures among us, which we in the commission call the “war mode” because, unfortunately, they are behind the war for power and where the positions and negotiations often you do not find between opponents in the interest of the common good, but between enemies in the interest of groups or parties. Democracy is like that among us, but it is democracy.

The Democratic Center won the debate, even dragging in Congressmen who reached the extraordinary agreement between Havana and the Teatro Colon. The decision taken by Congress is consistent with the actions of the Democratic Center, which has claimed that there has never been an internal armed conflict in Colombia, but that terrorists have attacked institutions. Also to the rejection of the Columbus Convention and the resulting institutions, such as the Commission, which were described as illegitimate. For this reason, Article 8 of the PND, which set the reference point for public ethics in the Commission’s recommendations, had to be deleted.

In connection: Truth Commission recommendations: Senate scuttled them, Chamber approved them

Do you think that with this decision, the contribution of the Truth Commission would disappear?

No, what is interesting is that the Commission’s recommendations are included throughout the approved National Development Plan. In the foundations of the plan, reference is repeatedly made to the consideration of the Commission’s recommendations, for example on women’s and gender rights; in caring for children, especially from ethnic groups threatened with extinction and the migrant and displaced population. Also in the policy of human rights and international humanitarian law, so that international standards are integrated; in the curriculum; when planning the areas; in the continuation of the search for memory and historical truth; and more generally and explicitly in relation to institutional transformations.

The recommendations made to society and to the government elected in mid-2022, without having spoken to any of the presidential candidates, are alive in the president’s decision for total peace. The commission recommends the Great Peace, which begins with the task of reconciliation between the Colombians and the full implementation of the peace agreement. The dignity of the victims. Existing drug trafficking policy is in line with the Commission’s recommendations. Likewise, the development of the territories, rural property, the central place of the peasantry, the inclusion of the Afro and indigenous communities, the transformation of the security system, the independence and effectiveness of the judiciary, the incorporation of formal production into the system Half of the country has the recognition of the rights of Colombians living in exile because of the conflict has been ruled out.

According to your reply, you have found that some recommendations have been accepted by the current government. Where is the problem?

Politically determined to remove the Commission from public moral authority as a reference in discussions on essential changes for ending the armed conflict. That is the message of Congress.

This is unfortunate because the state has equipped itself with an independent institution that has been listening to the country for four years, has an understanding of the situation and speaks to it independently of the authorities and exceptionally and temporarily In Congress we end up with a political decision, which is not recognised, not taken into account and not accepted.

The recommendations are drawn from the entire Commission report and very few have read it; In my opinion, for fear of the uncomfortable truth. The normal thing in a country that refuses to acknowledge the widespread tragedy and understand the political and institutional implications of acknowledging this brutal reality is to bring the matter up and pretend it is did not exist.

By removing the public moral virtue of the Commission, the message goes even further. The point is to nullify the contribution to the truth of the Commission’s final report on which the recommendations are based.

Also read: These are the recommendations of the Truth Commission’s final report

From some areas it was mentioned that the Truth Commission had exceeded its mandate in some recommendations. What do you make of it?

It is difficult to transcend functions when one is not legislating but imposing moral obligations in front of millions demanding an ethical transformation of a country that keeps repeating the unbearable.

The Commission had a duty to make recommendations because Decree 588 required it and because it is against humanity to see a perverse reality and not consciously undertake the obligation to reflect on what needs to be done so that it does not go further. For this reason, the Commission had a duty to provide clarity, present conclusions and make recommendations not to repeat it.

The recommendations are not the result of negotiation with the armed actor, as is the case with the Colon Accords, which are legally binding. The recommendations are not negotiated, they emerge from the reflection on the tragedy and are presented as referents of political ethics in the discussion of the institutional changes required by the outcome of the tragedy.

“Recommendations are not negotiated, they arise from reflection on the tragedy”

Francis of Roux

Why do you say the recommendations are a moral reference?

For these specific phrasings – of justice, drug trafficking, security, development – are necessary to focus the conversation on the substantive changes and to express the victims’ expectations and the urgency that the Commission saw in identifying the patterns or dynamics political violence and is fully aware that these dynamics will not stop and will continue the armed conflict mixed with drug trafficking.

What is important is the spirit behind the specifics that democratic discussion has to define. We recommend a peace ministry to make it clear that as long as there is conflict, we believe it is necessary for the noise of the communities to be represented in the Presidential Cabinet alongside the Minister of Finance, Agriculture and Education. It’s the cry of the people on all sides: stop this war, stop it!

We recommend a change in security because we see the need for an army and a police force that are there for peace, that have the size to use their authority to contain the political strife and social conflict of Colombians without taking sides and point out enemies.

We recommend independence in the election of the prosecutor because people want an effective judiciary independent of politics, present throughout the territory, capable of stopping corruption for 50 years. The concrete specifications should formulate concrete solutions for unavoidable dynamics of violence.

What does it mean for a country that continues to have an active conflict if it fails to comply with recommendations to resolve the conflict or helps prevent it from recurring?

We spoke about the Great Peace because we wanted to emphasize two things that seemed very important to us. First, that we Colombians work on our reconciliation among ourselves, that we enter into a very strong dialogue that requires great determination to listen to the other, not to look at him with suspicion, to eliminate the idea that we are enemies of each other. Being open to things we don’t like, but that’s the way to reconciliation. Secondly, we wanted to emphasize the implementation of the Havana Agreement to its fullest extent.

What do you think of the way you are conducting the Total Peace negotiations?

Unfortunately, I was not able to follow the events in detail as I am not in the country at the moment. I feel that the President is prioritizing peace as a responsibility of the state, that is, under Article 22 of the Constitution, peace is a duty and a right that cannot be deferred, and I think it is full and totally involved. I have questions, but I can’t answer them conclusively here, for example because of the fact that in such an enormously complex situation all groups have to be involved at the same time. For example, it cannot be clarified in negotiations to what extent the National Liberation Army will really give up and accept the structural changes it is demanding.

What information do you have on the reasons for the coca crisis in Colombia?

When we were conducting the study for the Commission, I had the opportunity to speak to people at the highest level of the police force who told us about the difficulty and surprise experienced at the highest level of the police force to see how the coca works Coming from the south of the country, the car passed eleven high-level police and security checkpoints, and there was no problem because the money they left behind on the way to get to Urabá and Urabá to Mexico leaving was no problem. After the ties are cut and the ties are broken, the coca cannot pass and the market grinds to a complete halt.

We recommend: Coca Crisis: Opportunity for the state to offer alternatives to communities

In the interview with Cambio, you quote the interview that El Espectador conducted with the researcher Estefanía Ciro. Do you have any more information on whether the withdrawal of the military and police has affected the price of coca?

According to economic analysis, if you have a commodity that you don’t buy, the price of the commodity immediately falls, it’s an elementary equation of the market economy.

With the handover of the final report on June 28th, the follow-up and monitoring committee was given the task of following up on and driving forward the implementation of the recommendations. How do you see this work?

The follow-up and monitoring committee exists and was set up for seven years to consider and evaluate the implementation of the recommendations. This follow-up follows the concrete institutional changes recommended by the Commission; and also to the alternatives that the democratic discussion in the instances of state and society leads to changing specific points recommended by the Commission. The Monitoring and Monitoring Committee will assess the extent to which these changes meet the ethical requirements identified by the Commission and how their implementation is developing.

What remains to be done without leaving the legacy of the Truth Commission?

The truth is I’m not worried about Article 8 being scrapped, I trust democracy. What I want and what we will do with all our souls, Commissioners and Commissioners, is that we protect the public moral and ethical standing of the Commission.

The street is neither the street nor the pulse of the size of the demonstrations and the power of the slogans. The path is a difficult dialogue without losing the horizon of a nation that has chosen change and discovers that change is invading what we do not know, what has not yet been.

The President must have the size to open up to dialogue across political rivalries, fears and misunderstandings. There must be a return to the original attitude of speaking to everyone who, in one way or another, has the capacity to make decisions and has rights and interests. He is the first to be willing to bear the cost of the attacks that arise from ignorance, fear, ideologies and insecurities, and he must embrace the wealth of society in its various expressions and contain it in constructive conversations. Change is very difficult. This country is being built by all of us, or there will be a humane, ecological and peaceful future for no one, and to build it like this we all have to give in, we have to change.