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Tanja Nijmeijer

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Alexandra Nariño (Tanja Nijmeijer) is an international combatant from The Netherlands and member of the Peace Delegation of the FARC-EP
Monday, 20 July 2015 00:00


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Written by Tanja Nijmeijer, @Tanja_FARC

Starting in the Netherlands ...

In July 1995, during the war in Yugoslavia, a group of approximately 400 Dutch peacekeepers grouped in a battalion called Dutchbat III, was in Bosnia and Herzegovina to protect Bosnian people against ethnic cleansing carried out by the Serbs.


When the army of the Bosnian Serb forces, under the command of General Ratko Mladic, was approaching the city of Srebrenica, safe area declared by the UN, the vast majority of inhabitants of this city sought refuge in the camp of the Dutch peacekeepers. The Dutch military, in a conduct of criminal negligence, delivered tens of thousands of Bosnian Muslims to the Serbs, to save their own lives. 8373 of them were killed by Serb soldiers and paramilitaries.

In 2006, the soldiers of Dutchbat III were decorated by the Dutch defense minister, which was strongly criticized by survivors of the genocide. In 2010, relatives of the victims sued the battalion commander, Karremans, and two other officers for complicity in genocide. Last year, the Dutch public prosecutor decided that it would not sue them, but the lawyer of the family keeps on insisting, saying: "I have the strong impression that the prosecution did want to sue the commanders of the battalion, but that it was prevented from above. I think that at these levels, the prosecution of their own military is considered "undesirable".

Passing through the US...

Since the US invasion in Iraq in 2003, a multitude of reports from human rights organizations have come out with evidence that the US Army and thousands of private military contractors, or mercenaries, have killed civilians, raped women, tortured prisoners and detained thousands of people arbitrarily; all this with almost total impunity. Perhaps the best known example was in 2007, when the company Blackwater mercenaries killed 17 Iraqi civilians and wounded 20 more, in Nisour Square of the city of Baghdad.

... ending up in Colombia.

In 2008, the first cases of the euphemistically called "false positives" in Colombia were revealed: extrajudicial executions of civilians by the Army, presented as guerrilla fighters killed in combat, in order to obtain bonuses, vacation or just to show results. Although these cases really started to appear in the 90s, there was a dramatic increase under Uribe?s administration. On May 27, 2010, Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur for arbitrary executions, presented a report following his visit to Colombia, stating that impunity for these crimes covers 98.5% of the cases.


Some of these cases are better known than others. Some of them show criminal policies; a systematic nature of the atrocities. Others represent isolated - but very serious - cases, for example the military of Dutchbat III. However, there is a word that identifies them all, a common denominator: impunity. In all three situations, the military are protected, either subtly or blatantly, by 'respectable' institutions of national life, or even by the international community. In the case of the US mercenaries, we could even affirm that it is a mechanism invented to do just that: to shed State responsibilities and ensure impunity to the perpetrators of crimes committed on behalf of the State.

What is so shocking about this, is not the fact that there are abuses or violations of human rights in conflicts, since wars are carried out with deadly weapons used by imperfect human beings, who sometimes don?t even possess much ethical or moral values. The sad, unacceptable aspect of this, lies in the impunity.

Some governments, penal institutions and personalities are constantly reminding us that there shouldn?t be impunity for the FARC-EP in the peace process that is taking place in Havana, Cuba. One example is the Attorney General, Alejandro Ord??ez, who recently said that "there can't be any peace agreement with the impunity intended by the FARC". Likewise, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Fatou Bensouda said that international justice won't allow impunity in Colombia, for the sake of peace.

The insurgency, meanwhile, has repeated on many occasions that in criminal matters, its goal is not to exchange impunity. That should be clear by now.

However, it is important to remember that the FARC has its own Disciplinary Rules, published on our web pages for anyone who is interested in knowing them. These rules describe which acts are considered faults and crimes within the organization, and the penalties that are to be applied when people commit them. It is fully applied in our daily lives, in all FARC units nationwide and in all ranks; this can be affirmed by any combatant, ex combatant or expert on the FARC-EP. The penalty, which must always contain elements of physical work, study and self-criticism to self-improvement, is part of our lives in the ranks of the FARC-EP. I even believe that there are no guerrilla combatants who have never been sanctioned. Severe crimes, including rape, desertion with arms or money or homicide are punished with a war council that can lead to a drastic sanction or even death penalty [1].


And when a FARC-EP combatant is captured by the enemy, he can get three to ninety years of prison, just because of belonging to an organization "outside the law"; Not to mention torture, psychological abuse, sexual violence against female guerrilla combatants, and judicial assemblies; this has been denounced time and again by our prisoners. Since time back, there has been a relentless criminal prosecution by the State against anything that smells of FARC, while there is a clear abandonment of its obligation to prosecute crimes committed by the State forces and its paramilitaries.

So the ones who enjoy impunity are others; we aren?t part of this story. I can assure you that FARC-EP combatants don?t enjoy a 98.5% impunity. We are not the ones who historically have enjoyed it, no matter the fact that our "justice system" - that is, our disciplinary rules - are not assessed adequately by this neo-liberal, social-democratic world; a world, which lacks moral and ethical authority to judge us.

It would be good to make a fair balance when it comes to criminal matters, and that these elements be taken into account. The false and one-sided idea that the FARC-EP are the criminals who are not willing to go to jail should be revaluated; more so, because those who have open accounts with justice - and, more importantly, with the victims - continue being "the untouchables".

[1] Here applies the fundamental right non bis in ?dem, which says that the same person can't be sentenced for the same crime twice. The State cannot intend to punish guerrilla fighters for crimes that have been punished by the guerrilla already, according to its own laws.  








Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court: Situation in Colombia. Intermediate report. November 2012. Sections 160, 161 and Annex.

Last modified on Tuesday, 15 March 2016 18:39