Switzerland to Keep Colombian Truth Commission Archives

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Swiss Interior Minister Alain Berset and Colombian President Gustavo Petro have signed an agreement to keep a copy of the archives of the Colombian Truth Commission in Switzerland.

The agreement signed on Friday, which was approved by the Swiss Federal CouncilExternal link on June 21, gives Switzerland a digital copy of the documents of the Colombian Truth Commission for the preservation of the files. The digital files contain, among other things, sensitive audio and video recordings of testimonies.

The Colombian Truth Commission was set up after the 2016 peace agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels. Switzerland has provided support to the Commission.

The Swiss delegation will not leave Colombia with the hard drive at the end of the visit, but it will be transported in the coming months and kept in a safe in Bern. It will not be connected to the internet and so there is no concern of hacking of the sensitive data. The reason that the archives are not available to the public is because Colombia did not want that, Simon Geissbühler, head of the Peace and Human Rights Division of the Swiss foreign ministry, told Swiss public radio, RTS, on Friday.

The peace process in Colombia required the security of the original documents and their copies. This is to be upheld by keeping a second copy of the archives in Switzerland. Geissbühler said this request is a “sign of confidence in Switzerland and in our peace policy”.

Berset, who currently holds the rotating Swiss presidency, and Petro spoke in particular about the peace process in Colombia, President Petro told the media on Thursday evening. However, no questions were allowed at the media conference and only a few journalists were admitted to the reception following the meeting.

Ongoing support for peace

That morning, Berset met negotiating parties of the 2016 peace treaty between the Colombian government and the guerrilla group FARC. Berset also met with the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla organisation.

Switzerland, together with Germany, Sweden and Spain, continues its support of the peace efforts between these parties. Switzerland is also involved in Colombia within the framework of the United Nations Security Council. “One of the goals of this trip was to get a picture of the situation in Colombia,” said Berset.

Berset expressed cautious optimism about Colombia’s future. “I was very impressed by the will to move forward,” Berset told the Keystone-SDA news agency. However, Berset said peace negotiations are not only about the people who take part in the negotiations, but about groups that are everywhere in the country. “It is not a given that it will be accepted,” Berset said.

At the beginning of August, the negotiations between the Colombian government and the ELN showed first signs of progress. A six-month ceasefire began on August 3. Besides the ELN and the FARC, other armed groups are also active in Colombia.

Source : SWI