The U.N. High Commission on Human Rights has welcomed the adoption of the Victims and Land Restitution Law but also expressed several recommendations and concerns about its application, various media sources reported Tuesday.
One key concern is to ensure the comprehensive protection of victims who have their land restored, especially in areas of extensive land-grabbing such as the region of Uraba, in the department of Antioquia.
Christian Salazar, the U.N. representative in Colombia, warned that the restitution of lands could spark violent incidents on the part of those who wish to retain their lands one way or the other. He urged the implementation of specific mechanisms to prevent any “blood flowing in this process.”
Noting the law’s indiscrimination between the victims of illegal armed groups and those of state agents, Salazar added that the law should reconsider the exclusion of illegal armed group members who have been victims of human rights violations.
He stated that children who were forcibly recruited by illegal armed groups should be recognized as victims independent of the age at which they dissociate themselves from these groups.
Salazar further called for judges and magistrates presiding over the land restitution cases to be highly specialized in the field and that they not only have independence and security but also the resources to ensure the process functions effectively and efficiently.
The U.N. official praised the Victims Law on the whole as a “fundamental shift in the policies of the Colombian state,” saying that “it establishes a foundation of hope to relieve the suffering of millions of victims of internal armed conflict and enable peace and reconciliation.”
“Our duty is to make recommendations in order to prevent mistakes such as those suffered in other countries in similar experiences,” Salazar stated.