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News > Latin America

Prosecutor Rejects Colombian Court Ruling on Child Recruits

  • Negotiator Luciano Marin Arango, alias Ivan Marquez.

    Negotiator Luciano Marin Arango, alias Ivan Marquez. | Photo: VOAnoticias

Published 7 August 2015

Two senior FARC members were acquitted in July of forcing three children to join the guerrillas. 

A Colombian prosecutor has hit out at the Supreme Court’s decision to absolve two senior figures of guerrilla group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia from the charge of recruiting minors.

Commander Rodrigo Londoño Echeverry, alias Timochenko, and negotiator Luciano Marin Arango, alias Ivan Marquez, were acquitted in July of forcing three children to join the number 9 Front of the FARC, which allegedly sought to integrate them into the urban militias of the guerrilla in Antioquia.

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Prosecutor Alejandro Ordoñez rejected the court’s decision Thursday, on the grounds that the ruling would fly in the face of international law.

“In compliance of different international instruments that seek the protection of children in armed conflict, in Colombia the recruitment of minors constitutes a war crime and it is the responsibility of the state to investigate and sanction those responsible, after the exhaustion of a serious process and with all guarantees,” Ordoñez warned.

According to the chief of the Public Ministry, different rulings show the responsibility of the FARC for the recruitment of minors in Medellin. However, the Supreme Court acquitted the members of FARC’s Secretariat, because it was not proved that they had given the orders for the cases in question.

“The Supreme Court of Justice should revise its own failures when it tested whether war crimes were present. When the Colombian state fails to complete its obligation of to investigate seriously and impartially Human Rights violations, how can it present itself in this case,” said the written objection written by Ordoñez.

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Magistrate Eugenio Fernandez, who ruled on the case of the two guerrillas, said that they were acquitted “on applying the principle of resolution of doubt in their favor … also no proving information of the accused having arranged the recruitment of (the children) could be found.”

In other FARC-related news, a Colombian lawmaker from the country's leading left-wing opposition party has proposed a bill that would prevent any guerrillas from being extradited to the United States.

Victor Correa, representative of the Alternative Democratic Pole party (DP), said the move is meant to protect those FARC guerrilla leaders currently sitting at the negotiating table with the Colombian government trying to find a path to peace, and end the over 50 years of conflict in the country.

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