On 3 July, BHRC hosted a seminar to discuss the challenges faced in the current climate of peace talks in Colombia for reconciliation between the state and its victims.

In 1997, the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó in the North-West region of Urabá, Colombia, declared itself neutral to the five-decade armed conflict, a civilian protection strategy based on international humanitarian law. Since then, the community has suffered many killings and reprisals. In 2005, a massacre committed by paramilitaries and the Colombian army left eight people dead including three children. In response, the community declared themselves in ‘rupture’ with the Colombian state.

BHRC Chair, Kirsty Brimelow QC has been facilitating dialogue between the Colombian Government and the Peace Community. One result of this has been that on December 10th 2013, President Santos issued a historic formal apology to the community for stigmatisations made by his predecessor Álvaro Uribe. Anthropologist, Gwen Burnyeat, has worked with the Peace Community since 2011. She and Kirsty have now combined forces to work towards reconciliation between the Government and the community.

Kirsty and Gwen were joined on the panel by Gildardo Tuberquia Usuga, Representative of the Internal Council of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, and by Jon Dew, diplomat and former British Ambassador to Colombia.

See a recording of the seminar [here]