Colombia plans to reform the body that oversees the country’s notary and registry offices, due to findings that these organizations helped steal land from rural farmers.
Minister of the Interior German Vargas Lleras announced plans to overhaul the Superintendency of the Notary and Registry, the body responsible for oversight of the two branches, Colombian media reported Thursday.
Changes will be made based on government findings that in some regions of the country drug traffickers, businessmen, and regional elites were able to seize land from rural farmers and the state with the complicity of employees from the notary and the registry. Titles to at least 150,000 hectares of land were reportedly falsified in this manner.
“We will make the Superintendency an entity with more controls over the offices of the registry that will be able to be intimately connected with the process of restitution of lands,” said the minister, according to a report by Caracol Radio.
The registry hiring system will also be reformed, to further ensure that the actions of employees are brought under control. An article in newspaper El Tiempo quotes Vargas as saying: “If the Congress approves it, it will open a public path to hire all of the heads of the public registry office in an open and transparent manner.”
The plans are contingent on the initiative being passed through Congress, and Vargas expects the law to be passed within the coming month.
U.N. refugee agency UNHCR says Colombia has the world’s largest number of people displaced by violence.