Even more terror, violence in store for Colombian refugees seeking return to stolen lands


Many of Colombia's some five million internal refugees make shelter in makeshift communities such as this one outside Manizales. They  usually without basic services such as water, sewer or personal security. Attempts to reclaim lands are met with threats and death.

Many of Colombia’s some five million internal refugees make shelter in makeshift communities such as this one outside Manizales. They usually live without basic services such as water, sewer or personal security. Attempts to reclaim lands are met with threats and death.

Things aren’t likely to get any better for Colombia’s internal refugees who are being threatened and murdered without almost complete impunity if they dare to reclaim lost lands, according to an international human rights organization.

“It is reasonable to expect that the level of threats will significantly increase as the thousands of pending claims progress, families return home, and those intent on retaining wrongfully acquired land see their interests more directly affected,” Human Rights Watch said in a blunt assessment of the dismal situation for Colombia’s some five million internal refugees.

“Of the more than 17,000 open investigations into cases of forced displacement handled by the main prosecutorial unit dedicated to pursuing such crimes, less than 1 percent have led to a conviction,” states the report entitled: The Risk of Returning Home: Violence and Threats Against Displaced People Reclaiming Land in Colombia.

That major investigation of the violence against Colombian refugees reveals the shocking state of impunity for assassinations of community activists who aid in the process of reclaiming lands lost during conflict.

“Crimes targeting IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons otherwise known as internal refugees) in retaliation for their for their restitution efforts almost always go unpunished: prosecutors have not charged a single suspect in any of their investigations into threats against land claimants and leaders,” Human Rights Watch said in a report published this week.

It’s long been obvious that the violent paramilitary, guerrilla and organized crime groups face almost no legal consequences for killing those brave or desperate members of Colombia’s internal refugees who attempt to regain their lands. The quasi-judicial process implemented by the government of President Juan Manuel Santos in 2012 has resulted in more violence against claimants than it has success stories.

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About Connecting Colombias

Recently retired newspaper reporter with one foot in British Columbia, Canada, the other in Colombia, South America. Fascinated with Colombian culture, Canadian connections, and heroic efforts to return millions of displaced Colombians to lands stolen by paramilitaries, guerrillas and organized crime.

2 responses to “Even more terror, violence in store for Colombian refugees seeking return to stolen lands”

  1. colombiadiaries says :

    Colombia is a beautiful country plagued by a system that allows impunity and gross inequality. Well done for raising awareness.

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