This article was originally published on Insight on Conflict
In any civil war, there will be victims. How to deliver justice to these victims is of fundamental concern to any efforts being made to advance a war-torn state towards peace.
Can laws be developed in a conflict zone in order to bring about justice and advance the possibility of peace? What are the essential requirements of these laws?
Is it possible to adopt laws offering compensation to the victims of crimes committed in the context of a civil war whilst the conflict and the conditions causing it continue to exist?
In Colombia, a civil war has raged for several decades. It is a conflict that has left literally millions of victims. The number continues to grow. In Colombia, the civil-war is not just an armed confrontation between rival groups, it is an armed, social and political conflict in which the state has been involved both implicitly and explicitly in much of the violence against the civilian population. It is a war that continues. For the Colombian state and in the Colombian context therefore, these questions are indeed pertinent ones.
In August 2010, Juan Manuel Santos was elected as the new Colombian president. His government has pushed forward a new victims law that according to the law’s creators will offer compensation to around 4 million victims of the Colombian conflict. It is being hailed as a major step for Colombia.
There are however concerns from certain sectors, particularly from human rights and victims organisations. We speak with the legal human rights organisation Yira Castro about the law and its capacity to address successfully the issue of the victims of the Colombian conflict.