[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Thursday released a report [press release] detailing its concern that people hoping to gain their land back under the Victims Land and Restitution Law [Law 1448, text, in Spanish] in Colombia may face problems ranging from bureaucracy to intimidation, causing them to fail to receive their land. The report, entitled “Colombia: A land title is not enough: Ensuring sustainable land restitution in Colombia” [report, PDF], describes Colombia’s violent struggle to control territory during the 50-year-old armed conflict. This report examines whether the authorities can guarantee landowners’ rights under the Victims Land and Restitution Law by examining weaknesses in this Law, threats against land claimants, economic sustainability, and impunity for those suspected of criminal responsibility in forced displacement. The report finds that almost six million people have been displaced from their home since 1985—most of whom were displaced as result of conflict.
Colombia’s five-decade armed conflict and resulting criminal activity by illegal armed groups has been an ongoing issue within Colombia. In March Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] issued a report [JURIST report] stating that illegal armed groups have caused hundreds of people to flee Colombia’s main Pacific port of Buenaventura in the past two years. Last year Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled [JURIST report] that a law providing reduced penalties for rebels who confess crimes related to their membership in illegal armed groups is constitutional. The bill, known as the “Legal Framework for Peace,” was challenged by rights activists who claimed that by granting judicial pardons to rebels, it is “contrary to the State’s duty to investigate and punish crimes, especially main violations of human rights” and that its measures to satisfy victim’s rights are inadequate. In its reasoning, the court analyzed the bill’s balance between the pursuit of peace and the rights of victims. In November 2012 a spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] expressed serious concern [JURIST report] regarding the expansion of military justice jurisdiction, claiming [press release] it would “seriously undermine previous efforts undertaken by the Colombian Government to ensure that human rights violations, allegedly committed by members of the Colombian military and police forces, are duly investigated and perpetrators held to account.”