Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Colombia: Colombian Government - IOM Agreement to Promote Human Rights and Peace Initiatives

Source: International Organization for Migration (IOM)

An agreement signed this week between IOM and the Office of the Vice President of Colombia will allow increased cooperation to provide assistance to victims of violence, promote the human rights of migrants and other vulnerable populations, prevent recruitment of minors into illegal armed groups and provide continued support for reconciliation and peace-building efforts in the country.

The agreement places special emphasis on the protection of the rights of victims of violence. Within this context, a draft law currently under consideration in the Colombian Congress aims to develop a national policy to provide assistance, care, protection and reparation to all those were directly affected by the actions of illegal armed groups.

Once the draft law is approved, the Vice President's Office will lead the efforts to assist victims of violence.

Vice President, Angelino Garzón, stressed the importance of support from the international community in building peace in Colombia. "It is vital for the Government to be able to count on the experience, knowledge and support of organizations such as IOM that have worked for decades in other reparation processes throughout the world. We are confident that this support will be invaluable in consolidating the important initiatives that will benefit the most vulnerable communities" Garzón stressed.

Under the terms of the new agreement, IOM will assist the Office of the Vice-President in providing technical, administrative, and financial resources over the next four years on projects strengthening the capacity of the national government and local governments, to ensure that the most vulnerable populations have access to all of their rights.

Vice President Garzón noted the key role of IOM once the draft law is approved; "The Victims Law, as it is today, is a valuable instrument, but could have ended up being a dead piece of legislation without the support of international organizations such as IOM, who will help create mechanisms to ensure the Law is implemented."

For the past four decades, the violence perpetrated by illegal armed groups in Colombia has impacted the lives of millions of persons. It is estimated that more than three million Colombians are internally displaced.

Since 2005, some 331.000 victims have applied to the Colombian Government for reparation, while 310,000 individuals have reported war crimes to the Attorney General's Office.

Since 2006, IOM, with funding from the US Agency for International Development, has been providing assistance to victims of violence, including facilitating access to truth, justice, reparation and reconciliation processes and advising and supporting development of income generation projects.

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 51,000 persons demobilized from illegal armed groups.