Corruption in government institutions is behind the displacement of many thousands of Colombians, the United Nations and international NGO Transparency International said Monday.
In their report, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the anti-transparency group named Colombia as one of 61 countries in which social stability, investment and growth was being undermined by unequal land distribution and poor resource management.
Weak governance, which occurred as a result of low levels of transparency, accountability and the rule of law, heightened the likelihood of corruption in the land sector, intensifying the impact of pressures on land use, agriculture and security.
The race to produce biofuels as a way to mitigate climate change was one such pressure, with Colombia cited as an example.
The report said, “In the case of Colombia, the rapid expansion of palm oil cultivation has been linked to paramilitary groups hired by individuals to drive groups of poor famers off their land and use it for cash crops.” A state investigation has found that at least 62,000 acres of land suitable for growing plant oil palms has been illegitimately acquired by private interests.
Corruption in land occupancy and administration ranged from small-scale bribes to high-level abuses of government power and political positions, according to the study.
FAO Assistant Director-General for Natural Resources Alexander Mueller said, “The findings of the paper reflect what we have been hearing for years from farmers, herders, investors, governments and non-governmental organizations in many developing countries – that where land governance is deficient, a high risk of corruption exists.”