The Colombian government and a human rights NGO signed an agreement on Tuesday to begin an analysis of land distribution in Colombia, according to newspaper El Espectador.
The Colombian Superintendent of Notaries and Registries signed the agreement of cooperation with a representative of CODHES, a human rights NGO, to begin an examination of land distribution in the country.
The aim of the new agreement is to obtain a more accurate picture of land ownership in the country. It is the result of research conducted by CODHES on forced displacement and dispossession, along with information obtained by the Superintendent from reviewing individual property deeds in areas most affected by land theft.
Superintendent Jorge Enrique Velez Garcia said the agreement will “jointly develop plans of action and intervention, to allow for a true analysis of land in Colombia, and allow for a true policy of land restitution to victims of forced displacement.”
Garcia added that it would help victims who have had to abandon their farms all over the country, who could now hope to enjoy the constitutional and fundamental right to property. According to CODHES president Marc Romero, “The figure of 6 million hectares (14.8 million acres) of stolen land falls short of the truth, we are talking about a number much higher than that.”
Romero said he was excited by the government’s signing of the agreement, and that the recent findings of Superintendent Garcia’s investigations demonstrate that land theft is a national problem that has been perpetrated in many ways. The human rights worker added,”Let us build a partnership with the government and move forward with a systematic investigation into displacement, to ensure the success of the Victims Law.”
The signing prompted Colombian President Santos to pledge “No more indifference to victims, never again.” Justice Minister Juan Carlos Esguerra stated, “I am satisfied that the government and the Ministry of Justice have signed an agreement like this, and the developments it will continue to make will bring more good news for the country.”
The agreement has the support of the National Commission to Monitor Public Policy on Forced Displacement, which it is hoped will help to advance the findings and aid the parties involved in achieving their objectives.