Santos offers $5K reward for information on ‘false victims’

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has announced rewards of up to $5,000 for information about people making false claims under the Victims and Land Restitution Law.

The head of state said he wanted to establish a network of informants leading to the capture of people falsely claiming to have been victims of land displacement or other human rights abuses.

Legal and human rights organizations have expressed deep concerns about the goverment’s accusations of “false victims,” pointing out that very few have actually been discovered. They say the allegations discourage real victims from coming foward and place an unacceptable burden on traumatized people to “prove” what they have been through.

“The message that we want to give, loud and clear, is that the government will not allow that the enemies, either the extreme right or the extreme left, of land restitution, of reparations for the victims, get away with it,” Santos declared.

The head of state reported new threats against several farming community leaders and announced Sunday that he would respond aggressively against what he called the “black hand” that wants to prevent the victims from returning to their lands.

Santos also announced that the government will establish a partnership with civil society to ensure the success of the Victims Law.

“The law is for the victims, no for the ‘avivatos,'” said Santos, referring to what he called “opportunistic vultures” who have made alleged false claims about stolen or threats of violence.

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