Colombia’s Constitutional Court [official website, Spanish] on Monday revoked the mining licenses of all 347 private mining companies that had previously been granted approval to develop the ecologically endangered Colombian Andes. The resolution contradicts [Colombiareports article] part of the National Development Plan organized by the National Planning Department [official website, Spanish], which had banned the granting of new mining licenses, but had kept those already granted intact. The change in policy comes as an effort to protect the South American Paramo, a delicate tropical mountain ecosystem stretching along the Andes through Colombia to northern Peru. Additionally, the court revoked portions of the National Development Plan that prevented previously war-displaced individuals from reclaiming lands and that allowed courts to forcibly expropriate land for certain projects.
In November Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported that the Colombian government should prioritize the rights of indigenous and Afro-descendant communities [report, PDF] above corporate interests [JURIST report]. Similarly, in November 2014, AI released a report [press release] detailing its concern that people hoping to gain their land back [JURIST report] 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 that those trying to restore land rights were likely to meet violent resistance and economic hardships in doing so because of the ongoing armed conflict [Insight Conflict backgrounder].