The Colombian Campaign against Landmines (CCCM) criticises the Mine Ban Treaty conference for allowing Colombia ten extra years to clear landmines from its territory.
Colombia’s request for an extension to the deadline was accepted on December 3 at the Tenth Meeting of the States Parties to the Ottawa Convention to ban anti-personnel landmines, held in Geneva.
National Coordinator of CCCM Alvaro Jimenez told EFE that the deadline was “too long” and that the convention should have demanded that Colombia clear all mines within three years.
The Colombian delegation at the Geneva meeting said that an extension was needed due to the complexity of the problem.
However, Jimenez said that the decision is “condemning farmers to ten more years of dealing with this problem” and that it suggests an end to the nation’s internal conflict is nowhere in sight.
“We would like the government to be more imaginative,” said Jiminez.
Kerry Brinkhert, director of the Ottawa convention’s secretariat, told Colombia Reports in November that the country had demonstrated its commitment to the implementation of the treaty to clear landmines.
The “international community” appreciates Colombia’s “special circumstances,” according to Brinkhert. Colombia faces a more difficult situation than many other parties to the treaty as its conflict is ongoing, and illegal armed groups continue to plant improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
The Ottawa Convention was signed in 1997, and came into effect in 1999. Some 156 countries have ratified or acceded to the agreement, which commits signatories to destroy all stockpiled landmines, ban production of new ones, clear mined areas, and provide support to victims of mines. All countries in the Americas have joined, except the U.S. and Cuba.
The second review conference was held in Cartagena, Colombia, in November and December 2009. The Colombian government said before the Cartagena conference that the country had the highest number of landmine victims in the world.
Rosa Irene Rubio, interim director of the presidential program against anti-personnel landmines said that the country had a total of 8,998 landmine victims between 1990 and October 2010, of which 38% were civilians and 62% were members of the armed forces. There have been a total of 147 civilians and 211 military casualties so far in 2010.
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines said in late November that the number of landmine victims in Colombia decreased in 2009, with some 674 casualties, of which 117 died and 557 were injured. This marked a 13% decline from 2008.