Colombia has the world's highest number of displaced people

Colombia's Constitutional Court has decreed that the National Victim's Registry must cover people displaced by the BACRIM, marking a victory for the thousands of Colombians forced from their homes due to criminal violence.

The court also decreed that the government cannot place any limits on displaced people's inclusion in the registry, reported El Espectador. According to the court's decision, the government cannot argue that a displaced person is a victim of "common crime" rather than the "armed conflict" as a way of denying them access to reparations.

The tribunal indicated that displaced people do not have "ordinary mechanisms" to resolve their situations, meaning they are very vulnerable and enjoy little state protection.

According to El Tiempo, displacement caused by the hybrid criminal organizations known as the BACRIM -- from "bandas criminales" (criminal bands) -- is highest in the coastal regions of Nariño and in the urban areas of Medellin and Buenaventura. The new court ruling means that victims will be allowed to register as long as they have suffered forced displacement, and the official registry will no longer evaluate cases to determine if they are related to the armed conflict.

InSight Crime Analysis

The issue of whether the BACRIM should be considered actors in Colombia's conflict is a thorny one with widespread implications for how the groups are tackled -- illustrated by the Urabeños' recent plea to be treated as the "third actor" in Colombia's conflict and be allowed to negotiate with the government. However, whatever their status, the impact of these groups on victims, especially in terms of forced displacement, is no less severe than that of more outwardly political groups.

In this sense, the court's ruling is an important step towards providing justice for the thousands of people in Colombia displaced by the BACRIM, who had previously been unable to claim recognition as victims and had no recourse for recovering their homes or receiving reparations.

It also means the government can start to properly monitor the true impact of the BACRIM, as until now it has not included the number of people displaced by the BACRIM in statistics, meaning the true number of displaced people in Colombia, already the highest in the world, is much higher than the official figure of 4.9 million as of the end of 2012.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
Prev Next

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power.

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network.

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy.

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...