BOGOTA // Colombia’s congress have passed a law granting amnesty to Marxist Farc rebels as part of the country’s peace deal, a development the government hailed as “historic”.
“Thanks to the congress which in a historic vote approved the amnesty law, first step toward consolidating peace,” president Juan Manuel Santos said on Twitter.
The measure grants special legal treatment, amnesty and pardons to members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) who are accused of political and related crimes.
The senate passed the bill 69-0 on Wednesday, after the house of representatives approved it 121-0.
“We welcome the approval of the amnesty law, this is another step in the long road to bringing peace to Colombians,” Farc chief Rodrigo “Timochenko” Londono said in a tweet.
Launched in 1964, Farc is about to begin handing over its weapons under a UN-monitored demobilisation process.
Now “5,700 guerrillas will begin to descend from the mountain and surrender their weapons,” senate president Mauricio Lizcano said.
The five-decade conflict has killed more than 260,000 people, left 45,000 missing and forced nearly seven million to flee their homes.
The amnesty bill is part of a November 24 pact aimed at ending the conflict.
* Agence France-Presse