The International Office for Human Rights Action on Colombia

Land in Colombia – Between usurpation and trade

Document of analysis in which the current situation of land, a central issue within the conflict, is described. It presents issues such as land concentration; land restitution policy; and current policy on development and trade.

Colombia is a country with a high level of land concentration, which is under-used for agricultural purposes. This concentration is due to historical reasons and has been increased and assisted by the armed conflict, which has contributed to high rates of dispossession and forced displacement. Today, Colombia and Sudan have the highest number of internally displaced people in the world. In light of this situation the present government has adopted a policy of land restitution. However, this policy has significant limitations and to date has not been as effective as was hoped. Meanwhile, impunity for this crime is almost complete and displacement continues. In addition, the Colombian government’s current policy on development and trade, based on “megaprojects” could strengthen and deepen further dispossession and land concentration. The issue of land, central to the Colombian armed conflict, is currently on the agenda of the peace negotiations.

The criminalization of human rights defenders in Latin America – An assessment from international organisations and European networks

This paper aims to describe the expressions and trends in criminalization in Latin America, and to make recommendations to the EU and the United Nations on the basis of examples from emblematic cases in Peru, Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador and Colombia.

The use of the Law and the administration of justice for the benefit of groups who hold economic and political power are not new in the history of some States in Latin America. These phenomena have generally occurred within contexts of dysfunctional democracies, high levels of impunity, social and economic inequality, and excessive use of police and military forces and private security companies. In recent years we have observed with great concern a sharp increase in the tendency to persecute, punish and criminalize social protest activities and the legitimate claims of those who promote and defend human rights, especially in cases related to large-scale economic investment.