Colombia govt vows to return stolen land to indigenous people

Posted on Feb 6 2014 - 1:38pm by Rico
Embera Katio

Colombia’s government said Wednesday that land lost during armed conflicts would be returned to indigenous groups, beginning with the Embera Katio in the northwest of the country.

The governmental Unit of Land Restitution (UAEGRTD) announced that plans were in place to return almost 123,500 acres to the Embera Katio who live around the border of the Choco and Antioquia states.

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The Office of Ethnic Affairs (DAE) began proceedings by presenting an injunction to protect and secure the territory.  According to the DAE their main focus is to ensure the dignity and security of those who have been victims of displacement.

The process began February last year when a judge in Quibdo, the capital of Choco, ruled that those displaced by armed conflict should have their lands returned to them. The Unit of Land Restitution hopes these measures will help, in total, 1,454 families and 33 Embera Katio communities.

A leader of the Embera Katio, Juan Carlos Murillo, told El Tiempo newspaper that, “since we were forced to leave our homes, it is only right that the government should help us”.

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Colombia’s constitutional court in 2009 declared the Embera Katio communities as being at risk of physical and cultural disappearance because of internal conflict. Numerous cases of displacement, murder, kidnapping, forced disappearance and recruitment were reported at this time.

A large number of crimes against civilians were attributed to the FARC and the ELN rebel groups and the AUC paramilitary group. Reportedly there were at least 27 massacres, 18 indiscriminate attacks, forced displacement and torture, as well as kidnappings and hostage-takings.

Sources

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