A bloc of Uribista senators, acting under the “influence” of Uribe himself, proposed a major change to the Victims Law during the final debate in the Colombian Senate, newspaper Semana reported Tuesday.
The actions of former President Alvaro Uribe and his supporters threaten to derail what would be a historic piece of legislation that aims to provide reparations to victims of violence in Colombia’s prolonged internal armed conflict.
The dispute over the law centers once again around the inclusion of victims of state violence, such as those affected by the “false positives” scandal that rocked the Uribe administration, as opposed to including only the victims of paramilitary or guerrilla organizations under the law’s benefits.
It is the same dispute that ultimately sank the proposed law when it was last under consideration by Congress during Uribe’s administration in 2009.
Senators Juan Carlos Velez and Manuel Enriquez Rosero, with the backing of several conservative senators, have now reintroduced the controversial proposal to provide compensation to victims of state violence only if they file a case with the courts, rather than being automatically included under the law.
Victims of state violence would thus be excluded from key benefits of the Victims Law and thus forced to resort to legal proceedings in order to claim compensation.
Senator Velez admitted that the move had the “influence” of Uribe behind it, explaining that it was made for the sake of defending members of the security forces.
The Conservative Party speaker, Hernan Andrade, questioned the actions of his fellow conservatives who backed the proposed change. He said that it goes against the meaning of the Victims Law, which is “to heal wounds and send a message of reconciliation.”
The Liberal Party reacted by calling on the Uribistas to refrain from continuing with the proposal, which Senator Juan Fernando Cristo warned could cause the “collapse” of the Victims Law, El Espectador reported.
The final debate was originally due to start last week but had to be delayed after an insufficient number of senators turned up.