Seven years of significant changes for the victims of armed conflict

The Victims Law, sanctioned in 2011 by President Juan Manuel Santos, has brought eight changes for the survivors of conflict: recognition, participation, administrative reparation, differential approach, collective reparation, memory, return and peace building.

Seven years ago, on June 10, 2011, President Juan Manuel Santos sanctioned Law 1448. The State recognized for the first time its responsibility to millions of victims who left the armed conflict and established a comprehensive system for their attention and reparation.

"The Colombian reparation policy has no history. It is the most complete and ambitious compared to 45 experiences of transitional justice in 31 countries", said Yolanda Pinto de Gaviria national director of Victims Unit.

The implementation of the Law has brought eight significant changes for victims, with a total investment of slightly more than $ 9.6 billion between 2012 and May 2018:

1. Recognition: The Law created the Single Victim Registry (RUV), which has allowed the consolidation of a database of all victims, direct or indirect, of 12 victimizing acts. Today, 8,679,002 people are included in the RUV, of which 6,944,905 are subjects of attention and reparation.

Of the people registered, 49.7% (4,316,127) are women and 49.5% (4,297,851) are men. They say that 0.02% (2.522) belong to the LGBTI sector and 0.7% (62.502) do not report gender.

Regarding ethnic groups, 208,807 declare to be indigenous; 30,177, Gypsy Rrom; 10,217, raizales; 822,613, Afro-Colombian black; and 2,279, palenqueros.

The majority, 7,719,202 people, are victims of forced displacement. They are followed: homicide, with 1,010,117 victims; threat, 430,565; forced disappearance, 171,090; loss of property, 115,575; terrorist act, 92,018; kidnapping, 36,929; crimes against integrity and sexual freedom, 26,253; anti-personnel mine, 11,428; torture, 11,009 people. There are also confinement victims, 9,803 people, linking children and adolescents to armed groups, 7,519; psychological injuries, 7,603; abandonment or forced dispossession of land, 6,552 and physical personal injuries, 6,147 people.

2. Participation: The implementation of the Law empowered and strengthened victim organizations. Today they are present in more than one thousand municipal tables of participation in the country, 32 departmental and one of Bogotá District, in which they propose, dialogue with those who implement the programs and exercise control. The instance with the greatest influence is the National Table of Effective Participation of Victims that participates in the Executive Committee that defines the general policy of victims.

The presence of five delegations of victims in Havana during the negotiation of the peace agreement between the Government and the FARC was a major factor in the negotiation.

3. Administrative repair: Between 2009 and May 2018, the Unit has invested a little more than $ 5.0 billion in the delivery of 805,815 administrative indemnities. Of these resources, 9,951 payments for $ 182,702 million were ordered by Justice and Peace processes. With these deliveries, the Unit carries out a follow-up to the investment so that with the received resources productive activities are started for the victims and their families.

On the other hand, the Unit has provided support to 451 community infrastructure projects for $ 42,030 million, and to 567 agricultural projects for $ 5,166 million. In subsidiarity or support to the territorial entities to attend the humanitarian emergencies, it has dedicated $ 97,573 million, with which it has benefited 131,636 people.

An important part of the integral reparation is the rehabilitation, offered through the Program of Psychosocial Care and Integral Health to the Victims (PAPSIVI), of the Ministry of Health, where 449,007 victims have been attended; and through the Emotional Recovery Strategy of Unit, of which 161,074 people have participated.

The Victims Law also allows for the care of victims abroad. To date there are 22,826 registered in the RUV, in 44 countries. Of these 2,281 have been compensated and 459 have returned from abroad.

The offer of institutions of National System of Attention and Integral Reparation to the Victims (SNARIV) is known by the victims through 200 points of attention and 28 Regional Centers of Attention to Victims (CRAV), where 1,146 have been attended. 452 people and 1,558,539 applications have been received, between 2012 and May 2018. Also, through Service Fairs and in the Mobile Unit, which reaches the most remote places.

4. The differential approach: Since there are populations with particular characteristics that suffered the conflict with more rigor, the Law provided for differential treatment. There are programs for people with disabilities, seniors and children, adolescents and young people. Women have a significant presence in spaces for victim participation and leadership in them.

5. Collective reparation: Today there are 634 subjects of collective reparation throughout the country, of which 128 are implementing their reparation plans. They include measures to re-establish collective rights, cultural identity, political and social organization, as well as recovery of activities and spaces for community, cultural and sports encounters, leadership strengthening and psychosocial attention, among many others. In addition, 506 subjects advance in the route of construction of their plans.

6. The recovery of memory: The Law created the National Center of Historical Memory (CNMH) and provided spaces for memory reconstruction exercises. The CNMH has made dozens of reports and contemplates the construction of the Museum of Memory, with the victims, to generate reflection on what happened.

7. The return to the land: Restitution of land is one of the elements of reparation for those who were forcibly dispossessed or forced to leave their lands. According to Land Restitution Unit, until May 2018, 5,981 had been restored. land for the benefit of around 38 thousand people. Before the judges, the Restitution Unit has presented more than 15 thousand cases. Since 2010, 260,818 households have been accompanied in returns and relocations, 267 return and relocation plans have been formulated and 5,163 family support schemes have been implemented.

8. The construction of peace: The Victims Law, issued five years before the signing of the peace agreement, was aimed at ensuring that what happened in the conflict was not repeated. As a guarantee, it provided spaces for victims and former combatants to meet and reconcile, through truth and forgiveness, in a voluntary and dignifying way for victims. 

The Law and the peace agreement with the former guerrilla Farc have generated the decrease in the number of victimizing events that occurred during the armed conflict. According to figures from the National Information Network, in 2014 there were 315,458; in 2015, 235,701; in 2016, 135,111; in 2017, 100,735 and so far in 2018, 14,616. 

The progress of Victims Law implementation and the Peace Agreement confirm the will expressed by President Juan Manuel Santos on the day that the Law passed: "if we have had victims, if victims are still occurring, we will locate ourselves and stand on the shore that corresponds to us: next to them, on their part, embracing and understanding their suffering! 

"There are uncertainties in the near future about what is coming for the victims, but "surely it is a path that has not yet ended", as Yolanda Pinto de Gaviria, director of Victims Unit, expressed.