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Santos asks conflict victims for ‘patience’

posted by Olle Ohlsen Pettersson
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Victims law

One year after the signing of Colombia’s Victims Law, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos urged victims to be patient and asked for more time for their compensation and restitution of lands.

The Victims law, which came into effect in January 2012 after six months of preparation, aims to give legal land contracts to around four million Colombians displaced by illegal armed actors and state forces. The law also offers a financial compensation of up to $12,000 for people affected by violence since January 1985 and onward.

In an interview with Reuters Alertnet, Santos said that the law was “a huge, huge effort” and that “the amount of money involved, the amount of logistics involved will force the state to be efficient and effective.”

Santos urged patience on the behalf of the victims and pointed out that the administrative task involved would require time: “The law was designed for 10 years and it will take 10 years,” Santos added.

According to the law, a victim is “any person who has suffered damage, as a consequence of violations of the international norms of Human Rights or the International Humanitarian Law, within the bounaries of the armed conflict.”

The law faces several obstacles. According to Colombian newspaper El Espectador 17 land redistribution activists have been murdered since January 2012. Additionally, much of the land intended for redistribution is still being occupied by armed actors, including neo-paramilitary groups such as “Los Rastrojos” and “Los Urabeños,” and left-wing guerrillas such as FARC and ELN.

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Olle Ohlsen Pettersson is a Swedish journalist specialized in the armed conflict, public order and crime. He studied at Stockholm University.

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