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Colombian Congress unanimously approves FARC amnesty law

By
Andrew V. Pestano
Colombia's Congress, pictured during a Senate session on Wednesday, unanimously approved an amnesty law in which some junior FARC members and some Colombian security forces members are free from prosecution if they are accused of minor crimes. Photo courtesy of Colombian Senate
Colombia's Congress, pictured during a Senate session on Wednesday, unanimously approved an amnesty law in which some junior FARC members and some Colombian security forces members are free from prosecution if they are accused of minor crimes. Photo courtesy of Colombian Senate

BOGOTA, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Colombia's Congress has unanimously approved an amnesty law that is part of a revised peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC rebel group.

Colombia's House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 121-0, while the Senate voted 69-0 in favor of approving the amnesty law, which will offer freedom from prosecution to some junior members of FARC and some Colombian security members accused of minor crimes.

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"Soldiers and policemen detained for offences related to the conflict will return home and guerrilla members will disarm thanks to law of amnesty," Colombian Sen. Roy Barreras said in a statement.

More than 220,000 people have died and 5 million have been internally displaced due to the Colombian conflict since FARC's founding in 1964 as a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary insurgent group. FARC has been involved in drug trafficking, kidnapping and other illicit activity to fund its insurgency.

"Thanks to Congress, which through a historic vote approved law of amnesty, a first step for the consolidation of the peace," Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said in a statement.

Colombian citizens rejected the first version of a peace agreement in a 50.2 percent vote in early October. The opposition criticized the latest version of the deal as "merely a retouch" of the rejected agreement.

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The revised peace deal, which was expedited through Congress and approved by Congress in early December, will not be submitted to a popular vote.

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