Colombian officials have drafted a bill which will begin the process of demobilizing the country’s paramilitary groups, with some of the largest announcing their support for the initiative.
The legislation which aims to limit the power of illegal armed groups is being considered by Justice Minister Enrique Gil, Post-Conflict Minister Oscar Naranjo, and Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez.
Additionally, the legal action would enable the Prosecutor General’s Office to organize safe demobilization, the surrender of sensitive information, and the prevention of the formation of new military bodies through the seizure of funds from recently abandoned, smaller yet potentially dangerous groups.
Any assets confiscated during that time would be redistributed to help the victims of violence.
In exchange, paramilitaries could plea bargain for shorter sentences, take part in special prison rehabilitation services and start reintegrating into society.
The new legislation, if approved, would apply to military groups, criminal organizations, and drug cartels alike.
According to the draft bill, the restrictions would apply to any group “with a defined structure and command unity, whose purpose is the pursuit of profit through the permanent carrying out of criminal activity and control of illicit income inside a specific territory.”
The motion has been made a priority. The outcome is considered essential for Colombia's ongoing peace process in-place since last November when the FARC signed a deal with the government to end more than five decades of conflct.
Earlier this month, one of the main armed groups, Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC), showed interest in the legislation, stating its willingness to surrender arms, on one condition.
The group requested the government propose a bill to ensure they follow through on the demobilizations and avoid repeating the mistakes of previous failed attempts with the AUC and the ERPAC in 2011.
Officials are expected to reach out to the paramilitary leaders in the near future, according to Colombia Reports