Colombia’s FARC rebels on Monday announced they had captured an alleged military spy in the south of the country. Both the FARC and the defense minister asked the Red Cross to facilitate the soldier’s release.
According to the guerrillas, the soldier was caught at an undisclosed location, but belonged to the Juanambu batallion in the southern city of Caqueta.
The rebels claimed that the soldier had been posing as the assistant of a lumber truck driver in order to carry out intelligence work for his unit.
In order to secure a quick release, the FARC leadership asked the Red Cross to facilitate a swift release of the “prisoner of war.”
Additionally, the FARC urged the military to end military operations “that do not just put the lives of their soldiers at risk, but moreover threaten the unilateral ceasefire” the guerrillas called in summer 2014 and came into force on July 20.
Since then, and in order to deescalate the armed conflict while negotiators try to agree on a peace deal, FARC units have largely complied with the unilateral truce while the military has drastically diminished the number of military offensives targeting the FARC.
The Defense Ministry said on Twitter that it had asked the Red Cross on Friday already to begin the procedure to release the captive soldier.
.@CICR_co fue contactado desde el viernes para liberación del soldado Rojas exclusivamente en manos de las Farc.
— Mindefensa Colombia (@mindefensa) December 7, 2015
Following the FARC’s announcement, the Red Cross said it agreed to facilitate the release.
International law dictates that combatants captured in combat must be delivered to neutral intermediaries as soon as possible.
For decades, the FARC ignored this and held captured soldiers captive for years, in some cases even longer than a decade, as leverage in negotiations that sought the release of captured and imprisoned guerrillas.
Juan Manuel Santos
After the FARC in 2012 banned kidnapping, the guerrilla group also began complying to international humanitarian law and has released captured soldiers to the Red Cross.
The group that was formed in 1964 is currently engaged in peace talks with the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos, seeking a negotiated end to the conflict.
Both Santos and FARC leader “Timochenko” have promised to finalize these talks before March 23 next year, but have since indicated that that deadline may not be met.
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