Unless Colombia’s government makes radical policy changes, it will be able to compensate 20% or less of victims of the country’s armed conflict victims, according to a high-level commission.
According to the inter-institutional commission, the current cost of compensating the 6.5 million survivors of the armed conflict would cost $33 billion (COP15.9 trillion).
The administration of President Ivan Duque‘s targets to effectively compensate the victims who have largely been displaced “are insufficient,” according to the commission that is in charge of following up the Victims and Land Restitution Law.
Members of the commission
- Inspector General’s Office
- Comptroller General’s Office
- Ombudsman’s Office
- Roundtable for the Effective Participation of Victims
According to the commission, The administrations of Duque and his predecessor, former President Juan Manuel Santos, have so far compensated less than 822,000 victims, or 12.6% of those who have the right to claim compensation.
The new National Development Plan sets a target of 1,427,777 administratively compensated victims. This means that, once the law has expired, not even 20% of the victims who have this right will have received compensation.
Furthermore, the commission warned, the revival of armed conflict that is denied by the government is generating even more victims.
Last year alone there were 130 cases of mass displacement that left almost 33,000 victims amid evident state failures to take control over territory abandoned by the FARC in 2016, leaving a power vacuum that has since been vied for by other illegal armed groups.
These events have overwhelmed the capacity of territorial and national entities for immediate, emergency and sustainability attention of the processes of return and relocation, preventing access to lasting solutions that make it possible to overcome the victims’ situation of vulnerability.
According to the commission, the Duque administration’s never consulted ethnic minority groups when defining its Collective Reparation Operation, which lowered budgets for native Colombian and Afrocolombian communities who are disproportionally affected by the armed conflict and displacement in particular.
The Land Restitution Unit, which is led by the former director of the controversial Palm Oil Federation, has rejected 64% of the almost 121,500 request for land restitution by displacement victims whose land was or is being dispossessed.
Specifically in the Pacific region, the Orinoco region and the Andean-Amazon region, the dynamics of violence derive from the phenomenon of deforestation and the subsequent development of activities aimed at coca cultivation, industrial agriculture, extensive cattle ranching and mining.
Until taking office in August last year, Duque was a fierce opponent of the peace process with the FARC. The president’s political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe, has long been an opponent of the Victims and Land Restitution Law.
Both have been backed by the same powerful regional elites and business associations that are accused of being behind much of the displacement and land dispossession.