HRW Acknowledges Improvement in Human Rights in Colombia
By Dialogo October 13, 2011
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has acknowledged that human rights in Colombia have improved, according to the organization’s director for the Americas, José Miguel Vivanco, who met with President Juan Manuel Santos.
“The objective of this meeting was to engage in dialogue with the president on some human rights issues, and of course, to acknowledge to President Santos that the country has improved in its political climate, public debate, in all kinds of things, obviously including human rights,” the director told reporters after exiting the meeting.
Vivanco also highlighted a law signed by Santos in June and intended to provide reparations to victims of the country’s internal armed conflict and also to restore lands to rural workers displaced by extreme right-wing paramilitary groups, leftist guerrilla groups, and drug traffickers.
“We’ve also celebrated the approval of the ‘Victims Act.’ We made some comments to the president in relation to that law. We’re very interested in seeing that those who are going to benefit from the act’s implementation can invoke it without risk to their safety,” Vivanco said.
Santos’s administration has acknowledged that the return of land faces great difficulties, because groups on both the extreme right and the left want to prevent it.
At least ten rural leaders calling for the return of land have been murdered in the last year, since Santos sent the draft of that act to Congress for its approval.
Vivanco said that this is a very difficult issue, because “it’s necessary to confront the criminal gangs, the armed groups that terrorize rural workers who have been displaced from their lands in the course of this whole conflict” and who should be placed in a position in which they have a real opportunity to exercise their rights.