Colombia: Proposed bill would benefit companies & landowners occupying lands of people displaced by internal armed conflict

Author: Adriaan Alsema for Colombia Reports, Published on: 17 September 2018

“How to steal land the size of a small country and get away with it” - September 17, 2018

Colombia’s ruling party wants to hinder war victims’ efforts to seek the return of 3 million hectares of land — an area the size of Belgium — they say was stolen during the country’s armed conflict…While on campaign earlier this year, President Ivan Duque promised to offer increased legal protection for the “private property of landowners and corporations.”…What Duque didn’t say was that the specific landowners and corporations refuse to return allegedly stolen land to war victims.

The proposal of far-right Senator Maria Fernanda Cabal, the wife of controversial ranchers federation chief Jose Felix Lafaurie, has alerted both victim organizations and former Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo (Liberal Party), the author of the victims law…Cabal wants to change the law so that those who refuse to return dispossessed land property no longer have to prove they acted in “good faith.”…Instead, the burden of proof will lie with the victims, who would have difficulty proving they did not sell their land voluntarily, but were coerced through violence…The Victims and Land Restitution Law granted rights to war victims, particularly to the 7.5 million Colombians who were displaced during the armed conflict.

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