The president of the Colombian National Reparations Commission, Eduardo Pizarro, said that the state needs to create a new capped system for awarding victims of the country’s ongoing civil conflict that is “just, feasible and sustainable.”
In an interview with Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, Pizarro said the Andean nation has around 3 million victims who deserve compensation and that the current reparations system puts a strain on the country’s resources, which could be put to better use elsewhere.
“In a country that has so many needs you cannot not give [COP]15 billion [$8 million] to one family. These resources could be justly used for roads, education and health,” Pizzaro said.
The official added that victims had a right to compensation but “it should not affect the stability of the state.”
“There are demands for several billion pesos. Almost a year of the Republic’s budget is becoming subject to lawsuits. And the state loses between 90% and 95% of cases. You have to put a limit on this situation,” Pizzaro said.
Pizarro said the present model unfairly benefits those who are already wealthy, because they can afford to pay better lawyers than poorer families. The new system proposes two types of reparations; administrative and judicial, which would limit the maximum amount that could be paid out. According to Pizarro this would allow the state to give compensation to all victims.
Pizarro said that a draft proposal of the new system had already been approved by the National Council on Economic and Social Policy (Conpes). The draft outlines alternative means of compensation, including medical care, name clearing, state recognition, restitution of property and guarantees that victims would not be targeted again.
The draft will have to be approved by the incoming government before becoming an official policy.
Pizzaro’s decision to re-evaluate the country’s reparation system follows the recent controversy caused by Ingrid Betacourt’s application for compensation, after she was kidnapped and spent six years in FARC captivity between 2002 and 2008.