A Colombian court has ruled that the state must pay over $500,000 to displaced families for failure to protect them from paramilitaries, reported local media Monday.
The judicial body, the Council of State, ordered payments to 280 families displaced in Cesar province, northeast Colombia, due to failures by the army and police to take appropriate measures to counteract a paramilitary offensive in the area, according to Caracol Radio.
The court said that the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Defense, the National Army and the National Police had all failed in their duty to protect the families.
On February 14, 1996 about 40 paramilitaries threatened the occupants of the hacienda Bellacruz, in the town of La Gloria and Pelaya, in the department of Cesar, giving them five days to leave their properties.
The ruling notes that the army and police both had a presence in the area but failed to prevent the displacement and did not confront the paramilitary incursion into the area.