C

Commissioners: Corporación Colectivo de Abogados “José Alvear Restrepo” (CCAJAR), Consultoría para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento (CODHES), Corporación Jurídica Yira Castro, Coordinación Nacional de Desplazados (CND), Colectivo de Mujeres al Derecho / Corporación Sisma Mujer, Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz (CIJP)

Petitioners: Consultoria para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento (CODHES), Colectivo de Abogados “José Alvear Restrepo,” Corporación Jurídica Yira Castro

State: State of Colombia

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) heard testimony at a hearing on November 2, 2012, concerning the rights that victims of forced displacement in Colombia have under the new Law of Victims and Restitution of Lands, also known as Law 1448, passed in June 2011. The law seeks to provide reparations and restitution to those who have been forcibly displaced by internal conflict.

Petitioner Consultoria para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento (CODHES) indicated that there are currently five million displaced persons in Colombia, 800,000 of whom have become displaced since 1997. CODHES stated that displacements generally affect rural dwellers, indigenous peoples, and Afro-Colombians, and that people have been forced to abandon 6.5 million hectares of land as well as housing and work equipment. CODHES praised the State for recognizing the issue and passing the law, but asserted that problems loom over the restitution measures and pointed to continual conflict that is displacing people, structural problems of impunity and legal support to those affected, and the State’s inability to provide legal and material restitution.

Petitioners Corporación Jurídica Yira Castro highlighted both positive and negative aspects of Law 1448, and said that the law could prove a suitable mechanism for millions of victims. However the petitioners also said that the granting of restitution under the law, where applied, is insufficient to help victims of forced displacement overcome their problems. Furthermore, representatives from Corporación Jurídica Yira Castro criticized the law for insufficiently providing restitution to women. Although Law 1448 was perceived to be a positive step by representatives from Colectivo de Abogados “José Alvear Restrepo,” they also requested permanent monitoring by the IACHR, specifically with regard to the effectiveness of the law, impunity on the part of those forcing displacement, and land restitution for women. The petitioner also criticized the law for providing limited reparations in lieu of complete restitution. All petitioners underscored that reparations being provided were insufficient, especially for women.

The State responded by recognizing the petitioners’ concerns and stated Colombia’s dedication to addressing the issues through several initiatives. The State representatives pointed out that people responsible for some of the forced displacement were recently arrested. The State further said that Colombia has developed 490 humanitarian missions and given reparations to 100,000 victims, sixty-eight percent of whom are women.

Commissioner José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez, who is also the Rapporteur for Colombia, requested information on specific strategies and mechanisms used by the State in carrying out Law 1448, as well as information on how Colombia can guarantee that displaced groups have knowledge of and access to the protections and rights afforded by the law.