Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 July 2014, 14:56 GMT

Colombia: Land rights activist killed as restitution law comes into force

Publisher Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC)
Publication Date 10 June 2011
Cite as Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC), Colombia: Land rights activist killed as restitution law comes into force , 10 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4df9ce2e2.html [accessed 23 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

A law to restitute the land of up to half a million internally families was passed by Colombia's Congress at the end of May. The law, also known as the "Victim's Law", was designed to provide reparations to the victims of conflict and to set up a property restitution plan. It has been long awaited by hundreds of thousands of victims of violence and human rights abuses in the ongoing armed conflict, but it does not incorporate special measures for restitution of land to those who most depend on land, Colombia's indigenous and Afro-Colombian people.

Providing security for the beneficiaries of property restitution will be a major challenge given that the parties responsible for land dispossession are still at large, if under new structures and names, and the conflict continues. On 8 June, just days before the President was due to sign the new law, a long-serving land rights activist and Afro-Colombian leader was assassinated in the city of Medellín, where she had lived since being displaced from Urabá in 2001. The leader of an organisation advocating for property restitution for IDPs was the forty-ninth land rights activist to be killed since 2002; two of her children had also been killed by paramilitaries. While the government has publically condemned the assassination, it must do a lot more to protect the physical security of leaders and eventually beneficiaries of property restitution.

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