Colombia and Switzerland signed an agreement on Thursday for an investment that will strengthen land restitution programs, for those displaced by the armed conflict.
Switzerland has signed an agreement to invest $6.8 million into the Colombian land restitution programs sanctioned in 2011, with the Victims and Land Restitution Law. The law was created to return land to around 350,000 families that had been forcibly removed during the 60 years of Colombia’s armed conflict.
The initiative between Switzerland and Colombia was signed in Bogota during a meeting with Switzerland’s Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ruben Lizarralde.
According to Ineichen-Fleisch, “The future of peace is closely linked to land and rural development. The objective of the project is having an impact on the Colombian system of land management and likewise participate in the regulation of land ownership in the country.”
Other countries, for example Sweden have invested similar amounts ($6 million) into Colombian land restitution initiatives. However this initiative has been forcefully opposed by rebel groups, some calling themselves “anti-restitution armies”.
However the program has achieved some success, with more than 1,500 displaced Colombians seeing stolen lands returned in 2013, according to the Colombian government.
Ineichen-Fleisch added that the project represents an important step in the development of the Colombian cadastral system. Colombia’s national cadastre office handles land administration.
- Suiza reitera interés de cooperación con Colombia en innovación (Ministry of Industrial Trade and Tourism)
- Colombia y Suiza firmaron acuerdo para fortalecer restitución de tierras (El Espectador)
- Colombia y Suiza firman acuerdo para fortalecer restitución de tierras (Colombia Noticias)
- Colombia y Suiza firman acuerdo para fortalecer restitución de tierras (Caracol Radio)