Colombia pardons 30 jailed FARC guerrillas

Colombian government pardones 30 jailed members of FARC on account of leading peace talks with leftist guerrilla group

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Ivan Marquez (C), head of a FARC-EP delegation, is pictured during Havana peace talks November 19, 2015

Colombia's government announced on Sunday it pardons 30 jailed members of FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, as a confidence-building measure in its peace negotiations with the leftist guerrilla group.

The prisoners being pardoned were not in prison for serious crimes, said the Colombian presidency, adding that the government will help them to find jobs and get social support after they are released.

FARC spokesman in Havana said that rebel prisoners were on hunger strike at 20 prisons because of reported exploitation and other hardships.

The presidential statement said, "As part of the confidence-building gestures between the national government and the FARC, the national government has decided, based on its constitutional and legal authorities, to grant pardons ... to 30 guerrillas."

A FARC spokesman told local media that 850 jailed members of the guerrilla group have been on a hunger strike "that the government wants to silence" and this has been ongoing since November 9 in 13 prisons with the aim of winning humanitarian releases and improving their prison conditions.

The measures follow the years of peace talks as government and rebel negotiators close in on a peace agreement in Havana in order to end the 50-year-old conflict which is Latin America's longest.

Among the titles of talks are compensation for victims, laying down of arms and a tool for establishing a comprehensive peace agreement.

TRTWorld and agencies