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In Colombia, Success of AUC Peace Process Depends on Reconciliation

Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2006

BOGOTÁ, Colombia -- There are few countries in the world that are in the midst of an armed conflict while also facing a post-conflict situation. Today, Colombia, the third most populous country in Latin America, is confronting such a challenge.

Three years ago, Colombia's President, Alvaro Uribe, initiated a peace process with the Self- Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), an umbrella organization of right-wing paramilitary factions. Since then, nearly 32,000 fighters have laid down their arms. In July 2005, the controversial Justice and Peace Law was passed which set out the framework for demobilization, the punishments paramilitaries would receive and what compensation victims could expect. The law, which provides immunity from extradition to the United States and a maximum eight-year prison sentence, has been criticized by local and international NGOs for being too lenient. ...

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