Colombia’s First Senate Commission decided Wednesday that the provisions of the Victims Law will include persons affected by the conflict as far back as January 1, 1985, Colombian media reported.
The approval of Article 61 is significant, among other reasons, because it means that victims of the Palace of Justice siege perpetrated by M-19 guerrillas in November 1985 will be included in the benefits of the law.
Senator Juan Fernando Cristo, speaker for the initiative, said that the decision marked a “huge step” forward in the process.
The period to be covered by the Victims Law has been an important point of debate in the Senate. A draft of the law prepared in mid-March stated that reparations would begin in 1986, but Senator Roy Barreras, from the president’s Partido de la U, argued that compensation should begin from 1984 to cover victims of the siege.
The 1985 attack by leftist rebels against the Supreme Court caused more than 100 deaths, including those of 11 Supreme Court judges, which were ruled by a Bogota court in November 2010 to be crimes against humanity.
A second important article approved during the session states the right of victims to be compensated in an adequate, differentiated, transformative and effective manner for harm they have suffered, reported newspaper El Universal.
Provision of health assistance services, humanitarian transitional assistance, registration of lands seized, compensation in kind and relocation of victims, and restitution measures in the form of housing were among a number of other articles approved unanimously by the senators.
The session closed with a total of 140 articles approved, of the 198 that compose the initiative.
Despite these developments, the date from which victims can file for land restitution will continue to be January 1, 1991.