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Gustavo Petro visits Amazonas, located in the extreme south of the country, in the Amazon region. Petro's Instagram.
Gustavo Petro visits Amazonas, located in the extreme south of the country, in the Amazon region. Photo: Instagram- President Gustavo Petro.

HRW's five recommendations for Colombia's President

The U.S. organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) sent a letter on Friday, Aug. 19, to Gustavo Petro.

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A letter sent on Friday, Aug. 19 by Human Rights Watch to Colombian President Gustavo Petro explains that for his total peace policy to be successful, he must comply with certain security strategies that guarantee the human rights of citizens, the dismantling of armed groups and the illegal economies that sustain them.

HRW's new director for the Americas, Juanita Goebertus, begins by writing in the missive that the current president's proposal "if properly designed and implemented," has the potential to advance the peace process, and the protection of the human rights of communities that have suffered abuses by sectors of the armed conflict.

The organization makes a total of five recommendations to the Government: 

In the first instance it asks it to guarantee the implementation of "a policy to recover territorial security." This is urgent and necessary because the government of former President Iván Duque did not guarantee human rights in remote areas and allowed the expansion of illegal groups.

In the second point, the organization asks Petro to define with which criminal groups he intends to negotiate and the process to make the approaches, because there are more than 30 armed organizations in the country and many of them have links with drug trafficking, illegal mining and other illicit activities.

The third point HRW emphasizes is to address the root causes of violence in the country, which have contributed to new armed groups once their predecessors demobilize.

HRW recognizes the peace processes, such as the one with the ELN, but asks the president that these new plans do not duplicate what was agreed upon in peace with FARC, which should be reinforced.

They applaud Petro's so-called "war on drugs," but ask him to develop in the "medium term alternative approaches to drug policy at the regional level that are based on international human rights standards." 

The fourth point it argues is that his government should "ensure that all agreements comply with the duty to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible for serious abuses and include appropriate conditions, such as full truth and reparations to victims, for perpetrators who receive reduced sentences."

Finally, HRW calls on the government to take special measures to prevent fraudulent demobilizations of individuals who are not part of the groups, but seek the benefits of the accords.

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