Colombia’s constitutional court pushed the expiration date of the country’s 2011 Victims law to 2030 after state failures to compensate victims and return stolen land.
Former Interior Minister and peace advocate Juan Fernando Cristo had requested the court to extend the law that was due to expire next year, claiming the state has yet to fulfill its obligations.
The court agreed unanimously and ordered Congress to file the necessary legislation to extend the law without changes before it expires in July next year. If not, the court ruling will take effect automatically.
Cristo celebrated the decision, saying it was a “great victory for Colombia’s victims. The court again is on their side.”
Victim representative Odorico Guerra also celebrated the decision.
Without the enforcement of the Law, not only does the institutional architecture collapse, but also the voice and representation of the victims.
Victims representative Odorico Guerra
The extension is bad news for those who sought to make a profit off the war by dispossessing land from small farmers or communities.
The court decision was supported by the Inspector General’s Office, whose delegate told the court at a hearing in October that if the law expired before effectively fulfilling its purpose “this would create a normative vacuum that would have an impact contrary to the Constitution.”
The Victims Law came into force in 2011 with the purpose of compensating victims and returning approximately 3 million hectares, an area the size of Belgium, that had been illegally dispossessed from victims of displacement.