Colombia’s government has warned that armed groups may use intimidation tactics to keep land they have illegally obtained, Caracol Radio reported Monday.
Agriculture Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo expressed concern that “certain armed groups want to maintain possession of the land they have seized and will use fear and intimidation to do so.”
The warning follows an investigation conducted by the Colombian Security Council, a private institution in the field of security and environmental protection that has been analyzing the current land redistribution process.
Despite the potential threat posed by armed gangs, Restrepo stated that land redistribution is a priority for the government and “it will not allow these armed groups to maintain land they have illegally and violently seized”.
Head of the Armed Forces, Admiral Edgar Cely, also reiterated that the government would not allow “interference in its land redistribution policy”.
The redistribution of land illegally seized during Colombia’s ongoing armed conflict is in its early stages with 42,000 acres being handed back recently as part of a pilot scheme. Greater projects of land restitution are due under the pending Victims Law.
Leaders of displaced peoples who are part of the restitution process are frequently at risk. This year hasalready seen seven leaders assassinated so far, with three coming in the space of a 24 hour period last week.