The conclusions from Tuesday’s forum called “Land, Peace, and Post Conflict” held in Bogota painted a very critical picture of Colombia’s land restitution program.
The forum focused on Law 1448, also known as the Victim’s Law, which has been slow to return land to Colombia’s internally displaced population.
The government had planned to receive 160,000 requests for land between 2010 and 2014, but only received 66,000 of which 1,400 have been approved in 723 court decisions.
In the three years after the law came into effect, less than 1% of land requests have been processed, according to the NGO Fundacion Forjando Futuros (FFF).
According to Colombia’s National University, at the current pace, it will take over 100 years for the Colombian government to fulfill it’s promise of returning land to Colombia’s internally displaced population, reported El Heraldo news.
The bureaucratic backup is reflected in a study of 500 of the granted restitutions, 76% of the processed requests don’t have an execution timeline and another 84% don’t have any monitoring process.
According to FFF, 5.7 million Colombians have been displaced of which 62% are due to paramilitary violence, 16% due to guerrillas, and 11% due to confrontations between various groups.
Todd Howland, of the UN High Commission for Human Rights, said that “there has not been a complete demobilization of the AUC,” referring to the neo-paramilitary groups that continue to murder and threaten land restitution activists and victims.
The Director of State Planning, Andres Gonzalez, stated that “it is difficult to denounce in the middle of a conflict that is still developing” and also for the victim’s “lack of confidence in government institutions,” according to Vanguardia newspaper.
The Colombian military has also been impeding the restitution process because the law says the military can stop the restitution of lands if the area in question is experiencing violence.
Invited to the forum were:
- Minister of the Interior, Juan Fernando Cristo
- Presidential advisor on Human Rights, Guillermo Rivera
- Director of Land Restitution Agency, Ricardo Sabogal
- Director of State Planning, Ricardo Sabogal
- Bogota Mayor, Gustavo Petro
- UN High Commissioner for Human Rights representative, Todd Howland
Among the invited were national and international NGOs that have monitered the land restitution process in Colombia such as OXFAM, USAID, and Forjando Futuros.