Colombia’s Minister of Agriculture pleaded to the Chief of National Police Friday for aid in the wave of violence against land restoration organizations.
In a letter addressed to the Chief of National Police General Oscar Naranjo, the Minister of Agriculture Juan Camilo Restrepo asks for help from the National Police to stop assassinations, threats, and thefts committed against land restitution organizations, reports newspaper La Semana.
The Minister said that the most recent offense occurred on January 17, 2011, in Antioquia where “a man burst into the headquarters of the (NGO) Association of Victims for Restitution and Land Access: Land and Life and after asking for the lawyer of the Association, took advantage of being alone with the secretary and snatched a USB memory stick that contained confidential information of the land restitution process.”
The NGO fears that the information and personal data contained on the USB could be used against the displaced persons the organization is trying to help.
Camilo also divulged that many leaders of land restitution organizations are receiving threats. He said that in 2010 two leaders of the Association of Victims for Restitution and Land Access in the northern region of Uraba were assassinated.
“Radical measures are needed fast to restrain the wave of assassinations, threats and theft of information that enemies of the restitution commit every day,” proclaims Camilo.
Due to a long history of internal conflict in the country, Colombia has the highest rate of people displaced by violence in the world.