On 25 May 2011, Colombia's Congress approved a Victims Law (with a chapter on land restitution) to compensate victims of the country's long-running internal armed conflict.
This briefing document, written ahead of Congressional approval of the Law, provides an analysis of the Bill and makes recommendations to the UK and Irish governments and the European Union on how their policies can best support victims receiving land restitution under the Law.
The briefing - Returning Land to Colombia's Victims - also looks at the scale of land loss and theft in Colombia. It discusses how economic and geostrategic interests underlie forced displacement and the current situation of paramilitarism, and how the demobilisation process, under the last Administration, failed the victims and failed to achieve its objective.
This briefing also discusses the land restitution chapter, in the new Victims and Land Restitution Bill, which, although a positive move forward in terms of restoration of land, has fundamental problems and challenges in its present form.
The British and Irish governments and the European Union (EU) will need, at this crucial juncture for the victims, to design their policies, and in the case of the EU its new Country Strategy (2013), to take into account support for victims and resources for small-scale agricultural models of development in order to support victims receiving land restitution.
If peasant farmers receiving land under this law are not supported over the long term then they will once again run a risk of being dispossessed of their territory. Furthermore, ethical business and trade must be a priority: European businesses must not profit from displacement or other human rights abuses.
• Further analysis of the Victims Law 1448 from ABColombia here.
• Read the report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre and Norwegian Refugee Council 'Building Momentum for Land Restoration. Towards property restitution for IDPs in Colombia' (November 2010) here.
• Read this joint report by the Social Department of the Colombian Catholic Church (SNPS) and ABColombia agencies CAFOD, SCIAF, and Trócaire, 'The Colombian Conflict: For the Rights of the Victims' (2009).
• Read ABColombia's update briefing 'The Current Panorama: Victims and Land Law 1448' (June 2012).
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