The Challenges of Colombia’s Victims’ Law

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signs a compensation law for the victims of the armed conflict and to restore the land to displaced farmers. (EITAN ABRAMOVICH/AFP/Getty Images)

By Dana Brown, Colombia Country Specialist

Colombia recently passed the landmark Victims and Land Restitution Law (“Victims’ Law”), which President Santos sees as so important as to define his career. “If I accomplish nothing else, this will have made my presidency worthwhile,” he said.

The legislation will soon give an estimated 4 million people the right to seek reparations for the crimes they have suffered as a part of Colombia’s almost 50-year long war.

While the entactment of the law is indeed a step in the right direction, it fails to provide for true justice and reparations for many of the war’s victims. For instance, those who are victims of guerrilla or paramilitary activity will have an easier time accessing reparations than those who are victims of crimes of the State.