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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Letter from Leaders of the Polo Democratic Party to President Santos

Bogotá DC, October 18, 2010
(Translated by Stacey Schlau, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN's Volunteer Editor)
Dr. Juan Manuel Santos Calderón
President, Republic of Colombia
RE: The Law of Victims has too many limitations and gaps

Dear Sir:
The Alternative Democratic Pole (PDA) has especially supported the victims of the violence that Colombia suffers, to the point of having been persecuted for its position from the beginning. Therefore it is obvious that we are in favor of a law to fulfill the Constitutional Court's decisions, to give truth, justice, and reparations to those Colombian victims. Congress failed to meet this goal in 2009, given the narrow vision of the government of President Álvaro Uribe Vélez.
Because of this, and after listening to victims' organizations, we find that Law 107/10 proposed by the Colombian House of Representatives and presented by the government, contains gaps and measures that severely limit victims' rights. Some of the aspects that most concern us are:
There was no prior consultation with victims' organizations or ethnic communities.
It does not recognize as victims people who are victims and excludes from restitution Colombians who had their lands taken away. In addition, it will be a commission named by the government that will determine who is or is not a victim.
It offers as reparation to victims what belongs to them in terms of civil rights for being citizens and lacks adequate measures of judicial support for all victims, so that they may have access to reparations and indemnities.
It does not contain any essential measures to assure that this violence will not be repeated and that the political and economic structures that underlie it will be permanently dismantled.
It does not establish solid mechanisms for arriving at the truth and the historic memory of the horror that occurred.
In terms of the sums of reparation and indemnity, it limits the justice system and administration to those resources that allow for so-called "fiscal sustainability"; it does not determine the amounts, and leaves them to be fixed by the government. Also, restitution to the displaced includes only land and not their whole property and even less is it sustainable.
Besides, nothing is spelled out about reparations and indemnities to political and social organizations.
During parliamentary debate, the PDA will present proposals that overcome the limitations and gaps we have listed, such as assuring universal criteria for the definition of "victim"; guaranteeing to victims concrete mechanisms for judicial defense; accounting for the search for the goods and capital of victimizers to fully support the restitutions and indemnities, so that besides giving restitution of land, restitution of property is also given; designing specific procedures for clarifying the historic truth; policies that assure the dismantling of the economic, political, and military structures of criminal organizations, so that the situation will not be repeated.
Naturally, Mr. President, if these ideas are not incorporated into the law and its essential faults are left unchanged, it would be impossible for us to vote yes, because it would be useless for the purposes of reparation and justice to the victims. Surely, the Constitutional Court would declare the law unconstitutional.
Clara López Obregón
President, PDA

Jorge Enrique Robledo Iván Cepeda Castro

Spokesperson, Senate                                                            Spokesperson,            House of
This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited. 



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