Bogotá, June 30, 2021 – Former combatants who are part of the FARC Search Commission for Missing Persons recently provided Colombia’s Search Unit for Missing Persons (UBPD) with information related to 15 cases of missing persons to assist the UBPD’s efforts. The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) supported the FARC Search Commission’s data collection work.
The cases are related to disappearances in Antioquia, Caquetá, Nariño, Meta and Arauca departments. ICMP’s support to the FARC Search Commission’s information gathering, and to similar efforts conducted by other civil society organizations, is part of a European Union-financed program that seeks to build capacity and enhance collaboration between authorities and civil society in the process of accounting for the missing.
Documentation of information such as the circumstances of disappearance and burial sites is key to efforts to account for the missing. Groups including the FARC Search Commission that collect and share information with authorities make essential contributions to the implementation of the 2016 Peace Agreement, said Lina Maria Pinilla, the head of ICMP’s Colombia program.
“ICMP works with partner organizations to enable them to better position themselves in work with government institutions to ensure greater participation, accountability and results,” Pinilla said. “ICMP supports the FARC Search Commission and other groups as part of the role it was assigned in the Peace Agreement. We aim to help deliver results – this is urgently needed guarantee of the rights of victims of war and restore public trust. ICMP encourages all stakeholders to intensify their efforts, and we offer our expertise and commitment to work with all parties involved to guarantee an effective, appropriate and secure process.”
The FARC Search Commission was created by the former FARC guerilla in 2017 as a confidence-building measure. It has designed working methods and protocols for case documentation and entered agreements with State entities and international partners to facilitate the search, location and identification of the missing in Colombia. Most FARC Search Commission, comprising mostly former combatants, seeks to contribute to the search for those who went missing during the war and to provide information to the State and the transitional justice system.
The 2016 Peace Agreement assigns former FARC combatants with key roles in the search for people reported missing. Ex-combatants often have knowledge of the territory and many have missing relatives, and in addition, the Special Tribunal JEP has recognized their criminal responsibility in cases of enforced disappearances. ICMP has partnered with the FARC Search Commission since 2019 and has provided the group with trainings, technical equipment and funds that have enabled the documentation of missing person cases.
“The deterioration of security for ex-combatants who participate in case documentation and truth-telling is a concern,” Pinilla said. “Accounting for those reported missing during Colombia’s 50 years of conflict is an enormous effort that requires steady commitment by all stakeholders, coordination among all involved institutions, and the active participation of ex-combatants and families of the missing.”
ICMP is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization with Headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, irregular migration and other causes and to assist them in doing so. It is the only international organization tasked exclusively to work on the issue of missing persons.