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Colombia’s Truth Commission presented this week its long-awaited final report on the country’s decades-long civil conflict, which strongly urged the government to rethink its war on drugs and called for a “great peace,” Al Jazeera reported Wednesday.
The report comes shortly after Colombia’s historic presidential elections, which saw former leftist guerilla fighter, Gustavo Petro, win the presidency.
The findings were compiled by the Truth Commission which was set up shortly after the 2016 peace deal between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
The report noted that the war began with a Marxist peasant uprising in 1964 that soon spread across the entire Latin American country over the course of nearly six decades. It added that the conflict deteriorated in the 1990s as a result of drug trafficking and the emergence of paramilitary groups, which frequently colluded with the military and politicians.
Meanwhile, the commission reported that more than 450,000 people were killed between 1985 and 2018, and at least 121,768 people disappeared. More than 55,000 individuals were kidnapped and the conflict displaced nearly eight million people between 1985 and 2019.
Chief among its proposals, the commission urged the government to end its militarized approach to drug policy, which prioritized prohibition over regulation.
It also recommended that authorities address the entrenched impunity for crimes in Colombia, saying there has been a lack of justice in cases related to the armed conflict. Lastly, it called for the full implementation of the 2016 peace deal and continuing talks with the National Liberation Army, Colombia’s largest remaining rebel group.
Analysts and victims of the conflict said the commission’s recommendations – if implemented – could bring Colombia closer to peace.
Truth Commission President Francisco de Roux urged the creation of a “great peace” and said he had faith in President-elect Petro’s will to carry out the commission’s recommendations.
Petro, who has pledged support for the 2016 deal, said the findings are necessary to end the cycles of armed violence and facilitate talks between the opposing sides.