Colombia news - victims

A representative from the Prosecutor General’s Office painted a bleak picture of the current state of Colombia’s national reparation program, aimed at compensating victims of the country’s decades-long internal armed conflict.

Special Unit for Prosecution of Properties Coordinator Ana Feney Ospina told a national media outlet Tuesday that many of the properties confiscated as part of Colombia’s Justice and Peace Program have been neglected or mismanaged by the relevant authorities.

The Peace and Justice Program was created to demobilize Colombia’s paramilitary groups, guarantees all ex-combats who surrender themselves before criminal justice authorities a maximum sentence of eight years in prison.

MORE: Colombia sentences 1st senior paramilitary under Justice and Peace law

The law had some success in neutralizing the right-wing militias that had previously been tied to large-scale human rights violations. But according to Feney, the aspect of the program designed to redistribute stolen lands to victims of forced displacement has lagged.

“All members of paramilitary groups who participated in the Justice and Peace program, had the obligation surrender properties for the reparation acts. But the government did not pay enough attention to this aspect, because at the time of demobilization it only delivered about 400 properties to the reparation program,” explained the official.

Feney claimed that of the 1,300 properties surrendered by demobilized paramilitary leaders thus far, more than half — 670 — are still being processed by a number of government agencies.

Apart from the obvious suffering of the victims themselves, she explained, is the danger that paramilitaries are de-incentivized to turn themselves in along with the lands they stole.

“If the prosecutors were to find properties that were not delivered to the reparation of the victims, [members of illegal groups] may lose their benefit of the alternative prison sentence.”

Sources

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