The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) released two of its high-profile hostages on Thursday. Clara Rojas, the running-mate of former Presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt – who is still being held by the guerrilla group – and who was kidnapped in 2002, and former congresswoman Consuelo González, kidnapped in 2001, were released.
The releases were facilitated by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who was also behind the failed attempt to release the same hostages at the end of last year. The two women were handed over to delegates from the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Venezuelan government in a remote area of Guaviare department in the south-east of Colombia.
Welcoming the releases, an Amnesty International spokesperson said that hostage-taking was a flagrant breach of international humanitarian law, which can constitute a war crime.
“The FARC and the National Liberation Army (ELN) must immediately and unconditionally release all civilians they have taken hostage,” said Claudio Cordone, Senior Director at Amnesty International. “They must not kill and must always treat humanely those they have captured, whether they are civilians or members of the armed forces.”