An official website of the United States Government Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

It is a privilege to be here today, standing beside President Roberto Vidal.  The Special Jurisdiction for Peace’s (JEP) commitment to delivering justice and accountability in complex cases arising out of Colombia’s decades of conflict is inspiring and sets an example for the world.

What Colombia has managed to achieve through the 2016 Peace Accord’s Comprehensive System for Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Non-Repetition is remarkable.  Although there is no shortage of peace agreements with lofty commitments to justice and to victims, Colombia is one of the rare countries that has taken concrete steps to deliver on the promise of transitional justice—launching a robust Truth Commission process, establishing a new Unit for the Search for the Disappeared, and designing the Special Jurisdiction for Peace.  There can be no question that Colombia is showing the world that justice and peace can go hand in hand.

And the success of the agreement to date is irrefutable.  The vast majority of FARC members laid down their weapons and committed to tell the truth about their role in conflict, opening the door to restorative justice.  We welcome efforts by many soldiers and military officers to address the harms caused in the false positive cases.  By telling the truth about what they saw, and what they did, and then apologizing to victims’ families, they are taking steps to help the country heal and to ensure such atrocities never recur.  We hope other members of the armed forces will join them in cooperating with the JEP to see that justice is served.

Like the 1985 “Holocaust of the Palace of Justice,” the extermination of the Patriotic Union political party is a case that remains shrouded in impunity.  The only way to satisfy victims’ demands for justice is for those involved in these crimes to cooperate with the JEP and reveal the truth.  There is still time for those responsible to come forward with what they know and make amends.

Today, in support of Colombia’s efforts to address the legacy of the past, Secretary Blinken announced the designation of three former military officials pursuant to Section 7031(c) for their involvement in gross violations of human rights.  Public designations such as these allow the United States to promote accountability for government officials who perpetrate human rights violations and to disrupt or deter future violations and abuses from being committed.  The individuals we are publicly designating are the spoilers who threaten the smooth functioning of the system of justice.

It is important to remember that there are people in and out of power who know where the bodies are.  The only way to get the truth is for them to come forward.  We hope with these designations we encourage others to come forward and cooperate.

Officers who ordered, tolerated, or covered up falsos positivos must be held accountable; so, too, the officers who ordered, tolerated, or covered up the violations of human rights during the “Holocaust of the Palace of Justice.”  These individuals received or requested transitional justice benefits under the Peace Accord in exchange for telling the exhaustive truth about these terrible crimes and implicating everyone involved.  Their manifest failure to cooperate with the JEP investigations is abhorrent and an affront to victims.  Their refusal to participate genuinely in the JEP process must be addressed, not just domestically, but on the international stage as well.

With these public designations we are sending a message to those individuals from all sides of the conflict, including former combatants, armed force members, and civilians who have not yet decided whether to cooperate with the JEP that there are international and domestic consequences to stonewalling justice for victims and survivors.

During my visit, I have been engaging with some of these courageous victims, survivors, and civil society organizations here in Bogota and in the Kankuamo community of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta; their rights are at the heart of the work of the JEP.

I want to recognize the voices of Afro-Descendant and indigenous victims and survivors who, along with victims and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, have been marginalized throughout the conflict; support in ensuring their participation in the transitional justice process is critical to achieving a just and durable peace in Colombia.  I have also met with former members of the military who committed conflict-related crimes and who have made the difficult and courageous decision to acknowledge the harm they have done and cooperate with JEP investigators to identify and hold accountable those most responsible.  I commend their honesty and hope others will follow their lead.

There is still more work to be done to complete the enormous task of addressing the wounds left by conflict in Colombia.  And we know from post-conflict zones around the world that impunity is a risk factor for further violence.  The United States stands with the people of Colombia in delivering victim-centered justice that addresses the crimes of the past and moves Colombia towards a brighter future.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future