Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

REPORTERS

Video: San Cristobal, Venezuela's tinderbox

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Rebuilding attacked churches in Niger, and illegal fishing in Iran

Read more

#THE 51%

The extraordinary tale of the Egyptian mother who lived as a man

Read more

ENCORE!

Film Show : 'Suite française', 'Shaun the sheep' and 'A perfect man'

Read more

FOCUS

Strait of Hormuz: a smuggler's paradise

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Facebook tracks you, even if you are not a user

Read more

FACE-OFF

2017 presidential election: a three-horse race?

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Milk shake-up: Protests as EU ends dairy quotas

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Iraq: Sunni militias fight alongside Peshmerga fighters

Read more

Americas

Landmark victims’ law enacted by president

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-06-11

A landmark bill that will compensate the millions of victims of the country’s devastating internal armed conflict was enacted late Friday. The bill, signed by President Juan Manuel Santos, will also restore stolen land to its rightful owners.

AP - Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos enacted Friday a landmark “Victims’ Law” aimed at redressing the estimated 4 million victims of the country’s long-running internal conflict.

It marks the first attempt by a country beset for more than a half century by class-based conflict to reckon with the magnitude of its social costs.

The law creates mechanisms for compensating survivors of the tens of thousands, mostly civilians, killed since 1985 in Colombia’s dirty war. Stolen land is to be returned to hundreds of thousands of displaced.

Santos signed the law in the presence of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

“Today is a historic day,” Santos said of the law he has made the centerpiece of his 10-month-old administration, speaking to a crowd of 600 guests including the military brass, the nation’s most senior judges and representatives of Colombia’s more than 2 million internally displaced.

“Our country is not condemned to 100 years of solitude,” Santos added, invoking the title of the novel by Colombia’s literature Nobel-winner, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, which depicts the nation fatalistically as one that can’t seem to escape endless cycles of violence.

Authorities say the law will take a decade to implement and cost at least $20 billion. The challenges are immense. The conflict is anything but over, and the CODHES human rights group says say 49 people have been killed since 2002 seeking to reclaim stolen land, eight of them in this year alone.

In a brief speech, Ban’s praised the law but said the work has just begun and it must produce results.

After all, the number of victims, arrived at by a public registration process, accounts for nearly one in 10 Colombians. And the country remains beset by conflict, though leftist rebels and right-wing bands hold sway over far less territory than they did a decade ago.
Many victims, though applauding the law, also expressed concern.

“I think that without seriously getting under control ‘parapolitics,’  ‘the ‘para economy’ and those who have cleared out lands it will be very difficult to produce processes of restitution of land and reparations,” said Rep. Ivan Cepeda, longtime head of Colombia’s organization of victims of crimes of the state.

He was referring to Colombia’s so-called paramilitaries, privately funded far-right militias that emerged in the 1980s to counter kidnapping and extortion by leftist rebels.

The paramilitaries devolved into drug-trafficking gangs, however, who wealthy landowners used to extend their holdings at the expense of poor peasants, indigenous groups and Afro-Colombians.

The paramilitaries continue to exert a powerful, violent and corrupting influence in rural Colombia, where the central government remains relatively weak and local politicians and military officials sometimes aid and abet them.

Jailed paramilitary warlords who surrendered in exchange for promises of relative leniency have admitted to ordering more than 50,000 murders. Human rights activists say the death toll could be triple that amount.

 

Date created : 2011-06-11

  • COLOMBIA

    Army troops kill 14 rebels in latest anti-FARC offensive

    Read more

  • COLOMBIA

    Photos released of assasinated rebel FARC leader

    Read more

COMMENT(S)