Colombia’s National Commission for Reparation and Reconciliation (NCRR), responsible for leading the transitional justice process in the country, presented the Institutional Programme for Collective Reparation (IPCR) to representatives of the national government.
The IPCR, designed with advice and guidance from IOM and with funds from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) gathers recommendations and methodologies for the application of this reparation mechanism in Colombia.
The NCRR, led by Colombia’s Vice President, Angelino Garzón, handed over the document to representatives of the Ministry of Justice and the High Commissioner for Social Action and International Cooperation, both charged with the implementation of the recently approved Victims’ Law, which stipulates that the central government must design and carry out a national policy of collective reparation. The IPCR will be the basis for this policy.
The NCRR, working with IOM, developed eight collective reparation pilot projects in communities affected by violence – El Salado (Bolivar), Libertad (Sucre), El Tigre (Putumayo), Buenos Aires (Cauca), Cordoba University, the Rural Workers Association of Carare (Santander), the Candelaria Mothers Association in Medellin, and the black and Afro-Colombian communities in Buenaventura.
The communities of Libertad, El Salado, el Tigre and the Association of Farm Workers of Carare (ATCC) designed and presented their collective reparation plans to the local authorities in May 2011. The other three will be presented in the near future. The eight pilot projects provided the practical basis for the IPCR.
Ana Teresa Bernal, Commissioner of the NCRR, said: “Collective reparation must become a priority in Colombia. Violence destroyed the social fabric of several communities and derailed the plans of many social, political and cultural organizations. It is important that the victims have clear and efficient mechanisms, such as this one, to allow them to rebuild their present and future as members of a community.”
IOM, NCRR and USAID carried out a geo-reference exercise, which identified the first 100 communities which could benefit from collective reparation, these included municipalities and regions that suffered the most from the actions of illegal armed groups. Several social, cultural, political groups, members of labour unionist, women, reporters, and Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities were also identified as potential beneficiaries.
Collective reparation is one of the modalities contemplated by transitional justice processes at the international level, but only a few countries, including Peru, Morocco and Colombia have designed programmes to develop this mechanism. Among the measures included in this programme are the restitution of goods, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantee of non-repetition.
For the past four decades, the violence perpetrated by illegal armed groups in Colombia has impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of persons. Since 2005, some 333.000 victims have applied to the Colombian Government for reparation. And 344,139 have reported war crimes to the Attorney General’s Office; most of these formal complaints are still under investigation.
Since 2006, with funding from USAID, IOM has been providing assistance to victims of violence, including facilitating access to truth, justice, reparation and reconciliation processes. IOM also provides daily advice and support in the process of developing new alternative ways of income generation.
At the same time, IOM, through its Community Focused Reintegration Programme, is working with ex-combatants of illegal armed groups in their process of reintegration into civilian life and their reconciliation with society. In the past four years IOM has worked with the Colombian Government in the reintegration of some 54,000 persons demobilized from illegal armed groups.
Marcelo Pisani, IOM Colombia Chief of Mission, explains: “USAID and IOM decided to support the collective reparation because we are convinced that this mechanism will allow us to contribute to the reconstruction of the lives of many victims of violence in Colombia. But there are major challenges ahead. We are confident that the government will be able to assess and put into practice the lessons learned from these past four years of work.”