The United Nations High Commissioner in Colombia called on the government Tuesday to protect victims of land restitution against attempts to discredit and stigmatize them.
Commissioner Cristian Salazar highlighted the efforts of the Colombian government by affirming that President Juan Manuel Santos‘ Victims and Land Restitution Law was the most important initiative regarding human rights that the country had seen, and that is why it is supported by the UN.
“We are greatly concerned that in recent days and weeks we see attempts to discredit and stigmatize the victims and their organizations as a result of the implementation of the Victims and Land Restitution Law. It is important for the country to realize that there are people who have suffered greatly and who have robbed millions of acres, so they have a right to reclaim their land,” said Salazar.
The commissioner’s reference to stigmatizing victims comes from the notion of “false victims,” in which people claim to have had their lands stolen contrary to the truth. Legal and Human rights organizations say that those allegations discourage real victims from coming forward as well as place an unacceptable burden on traumatized people to prove what they have been through.