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  • FARC leader Luciano Marín Arango, aka "Iván Márquez"

    FARC leader Luciano Marín Arango, aka "Iván Márquez" | Photo: EFE

Last week, President Juan Manuel Santos said that there were still approximately 1,700 guerrillas in prison.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia have welcomed the executive order finally granting amnesty to FARC guerrillas imprisoned over political crimes.

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'Triumph' as FARC Leader Lifts Hunger Strike Demanding Prisoner Release

The decree 1252, issued two days earlier by the Justice Ministry, was part of the peace agreement signed last November.

The truce between the government and the former rebels brought an end to 52 years of armed conflict which claimed the lives of more than a quarter of a million of people, left 45,000 missing and displaced almost 7 million.

“We hope that they will be released as soon as possible, but we have a deadline: by August 1, all our guerrillas must be out of prisons,” said a FARC leader Ivan Marquez in a statement.

The amnesty decree grants prisoners a “conditional release” with the relevant juridical guarantees so they can go back to civilian life without fearing prosecutions. The measure was approved in Congress as the Bill 1820 in December.

As a result of the announcement, another FARC-EP leader, Jesus Santrich, ended his 25-day hunger strike in prison to put pressure on the Colombian government to grant amnesty to all political prisoners.

During the hunger strike, the United Nations mission in Colombia urged the government to release the prisoners, saying that failure to comply with all parts of the amnesty agreement could threaten the peace process.

The accord reached a major milestone when the FARC-EP handed in all of their weapons to the United Nations last month, marking the transformation from an armed to a civilian electoral entity after over five decades of violence.  

It's also been revealed that 718 former guerrillas and 269 soldiers have received parole from the Special Peace Jurisdiction (JEP) since March.

Officials from the body have visited 70 detention centers in which members of the FARC-EP and 26 remain in the military with the objective of receiving and reviewing applications for release.

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