HomeNewsBriefSale of Victims' Data Undermines Colombia Land Restitution
BRIEF

Sale of Victims' Data Undermines Colombia Land Restitution

COLOMBIA / 6 AUG 2014 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

Authorities in Colombia have arrested seven officials accused of selling private information on victims of the armed conflict, demonstrating the corruption that has hampered the country's restitution efforts and puts victims' lives at risk from criminal interests.

The group stand accused of accessing information on displaced people, land restitution claimants and other victims, then selling it to the highest bidder, reported El Espectador.

Judicial sources told newspaper El Colombiano that the ring used the information in various ways, including adding fake victims to databases; stealing victims' identifies for fraud; speeding up compensation payments to certain people; and identifying those who reported crimes.

Those arrested, who were all from the northern province of Antioquia, included several officials from the Unit for Attention and Integrated Reparation of Victims, an official from the Medellin Mayor's Office, and the ombudsman of the town of Chigorodo.

InSight Crime Analysis

Colombia has been putting into place an ambitious victim compensation and land restitution scheme since the government passed a "Victims Law" in 2011 (pdf). The process has so far been slow and has achieved little, according to critics, and the type of corruption uncovered in this case has likely contributed to the lack of results.

Adding fake victims to databases can seriously erode support for restitution efforts. When false victims have been discovered, critics have used the cases to undermine the whole process, calling for the state to place the onus on claimants to prove they are "real" victims -- which is near-impossible for many.

Even more grave is the sale of information such as the identities of those who reported crimes -- presumably to armed groups. Since the restitution process began, campaigners have faced threats and violence from criminal organizations descended from the paramilitary groups who were behind most of the land theft, violence and abuses. Up to 50 claimants have been murdered since the law came into effect, and at least 500 received death threats in 2013 alone, according to a report by Al Jazeera.

The effects of this form of corruption on this process are plain to see. In 2012 InSight Crime visited the region around Chigorodo, where a land restitution campaign has been confronted with threats and violence from paramilitary successor groups. A central complaint of the communities was that they could not turn to the state, because any time they reported criminal activities the information was relayed straight to the groups threatening them.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 14 JUN 2021

A former FARC leader and veteran drug trafficker has sided with ex-commander Iván Márquez, a move that could prove crucial…

COCAINE / 2 JUN 2022

The death of Cali Cartel boss Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela in a US prison marks the end of one of Colombia’s…

COLOMBIA / 21 JUL 2022

Videos showing an ex-FARC Mafia group patrolling Tibú, Colombia, demonstrate the state’s weakening grip on the Catatumbo subregion.

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…