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Sun Feb 17, 2013, 02:58 PM

Paramilitaries, Uribe's associates 'blocking' land restitution: NGO .

Paramilitaries, Uribe's associates 'blocking' land restitution: NGO .
Friday, 15 February 2013 10:03 Jacob Stringer

Threatened prominent land restitution advocate has told Colombia Reports why land is not being returned to those displaced in Colombia's conflict.

The priest Jesus Alberto Franco, of Colombian NGO the Intereclesial Commission for Justice and Peace (CIJP), has accused associates of former president Alvaro Uribe of blocking land restitution, particularly those who have investigations against them for links to paramilitaries. Earlier this week, Franco's car was shot at in what his organization calls an act of intimidation.

"There are economic reasons [for blocking land restitution], to do with control of resources," he told Colombia Reports Thursday. "And the other reason is the protection of those who are scared of evidence being found of what happened. When I say people of Uribe's entourage, I mean those people being investigated for ties to paramilitaries."

The Victims and Land Restitution Law was passed by President Juan Manuel Santos in June 2011 with much hope that it would deliver some sense of justice to those affected by the nearly 50-year armed conflict, but since then little land has been returned. NGOs and other commentators have questioned the government's commitment to the law, which is supposed to return over 4.9 million acres of land to its rightful owners.


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