The director of Colombia’s victims reparation agency on Tuesday admitted that the country has difficulties in repaying victims of criminal organizations currently not classified as armed groups in Colombia’s armed conflict.
“In Colombia to be categorized as gangs, not armed groups, there is an exclusion in the Victims Law known as the victims of common crime, that gives us difficulty,” said Paula Gaviria the director of Colombia’s victims reparation agency in a report from RCN Radio.
The statement comes two weeks after the Red Cross released its 2012 activity report on Colombia praising the country’s work to grant reparations to “many victims under the existing legal and institutional framework,” but pointed out that the considerable number of victims of illegal gangs known as BACRIM, who suffer the same consequences as those of the armed conflict, do not receive the same benefits.
Gaviria on Tuesday also stated that her agency handles complaints from over 1,000 victims of criminal organizations (BACRIM) that have been brought to the agency’s attention by different human rights groups.
“Last year we allocated more than 500 billion pesos [$273 million] for the whole humanitarian issue, so it’s not an issue of vulnerability, it’s an issue of the condition that these criminal gangs have,” said Gaviria.
Colombia’s controversial Military Justice Reform law currently being debated in Congress could give the military special powers to engage illegal criminal gangs just as they would engage rebel groups like the FARC and ELN, allowing the army to use all its firepower in future conflict with the gangs.