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PRESS RELEASE

Breakthrough to include Colombian exiles’ stories in the Colombian and Swiss narrative

News provided by swisspeace, 14.06.2022 Initiated in 2017, the Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition of Colombia addresses the legacy of human rights violations during the armed conflict, leading more than 600,000 persons to flee their country. This Truth Commission is the first in history to involve the population living outside the country as a subject of participation in such a systematic manner. The Commission has gathered more than 2,000 testimonies of Colombians living in 23 countries. As a hosting country of more than 5,000 Colombians, Switzerland was a suitable place for collecting testimonies of the victims and survivors, witnesses, and perpetrators.

Initiated in 2017, the Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition of Colombia addresses the legacy of human rights violations during the armed conflict, leading more than 600,000 persons to flee their country. This Truth Commission is the first in history to involve the population living outside the country as a subject of participation in such a systematic manner. The Commission has gathered more than 2,000 testimonies of Colombians living in 23 countries. As a hosting country of more than 5,000 Colombians, Switzerland was a suitable place for collecting testimonies of the victims and survivors, witnesses, and perpetrators.

The process of collecting testimonies from the Colombian diaspora was enabled by the establishment of a working group called “Nodo Suiza”, facilitated by swisspeace and co-funded by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). Seven interviewers were trained by the Commission to gather the testimonies across Switzerland’s four linguistic regions. The stories of these people greatly contributed to documenting the human rights violations suffered in Colombia, but also the suffering and violations endured as a consequence of forced migration. The diaspora’s perspective will contribute to a better understanding in Colombia of the reality of those who had to flee the country and is very valuable for the Commission’s endeavor to clarify the truth of the crimes committed during the internal armed conflict. As this process also marked the first time that these stories were valued by active listening and acknowledgment, this work aims to foster healing and reconciliation.

As the internal armed conflict in Colombia is continuing and the number of asylum applications from Colombia, which often result in rejections, is increasing, establishing the truth about the reasons, circumstances of flight and life in exile of Colombians is also essential for Swiss migration policy toward Colombian and other nationals.

The success of this innovative participatory process will undoubtedly pave the way for the inclusion of diasporas in future dealing with the past and transitional justice processes to be implemented in other countries.

Please, find more information on swisspeace’s support to the Colombian Truth Commission here.

CONTACTS FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES:

Sanjally Jobarteh: sanjally.jobarteh@swisspeace.ch, +41 61 551 56 51 (FR)

Maria Vogelbacher: maria.vogelbacher@swisspeace.ch, +41 61 551 56 36 (DE)







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