Colombia: do human rights policy changes hold up to scrutiny?

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Juan Manuel Santos was inaugurated as President of Colombian on 7 August 2010. In his inauguration speech certain important commitments to human rights, poverty reduction, inequality and land restitution were made. The Santos administration has also pushed through legislative changes which include anti-corruption, judicial reform and land restitution laws.

Whilst there have been changes in the first year under President Juan Manuel Santos’ Administration in relation to victims and land, human rights and human rights defenders these changes are more limited than they might at first appear. Victims’ Law 1448 (2011) represents a positive step forward in creating a framework for land restitution and reparation to victims, closer examination however, reveals that only a fraction of illegally appropriated land is likely to be returned. The articles in the law that refer to usurped lands used for agro-industrial development indicate that the victims will not have this land returned to them. Many of these projects have been developed on collective territory belonging to Indigenous and Afro-Colombian peoples.

This report analyses whether the human rights policy changes introduced by Santos’ government hold up to scrutiny.