Daily Archives: January 12, 2012

Judicial oversight and the end of displacement in Colombia

by Sebastián Albuja

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) recently published its latest overview of the situation of internal displacement in Colombia.  Among other things, this document highlights the latest decision by the Constitutional Court of Colombia ruling that, seven years after it started monitoring the situation of IDPs and the Governmental response, the conditions that IDPs face in Colombia still amount to a widespread and generalized violation of their human rights (what the Court calls an ‘unconstitutional state of affairs’; or an estado de cosas inconstitucional or ECI, in Spanish.)

The Court first declared an ECI in relation to the situation of IDPs on January 22, 2004, and since then it has maintained oversight of the process towards overcoming the ECI, issuing over 100 follow-up decisions and holding nearly a dozen hearings with stakeholders.  This is not the first time that the Court has ruled that a widespread or structural violation of rights exists in Colombia. It did so for the first time in 1997 and since then on seven subsequent occasions, on issues ranging from prison overcrowding to shortcomings of the national healthcare system.

Much valuable commentary has been written about the role of the Court in shaping and defining IDP policy in Colombia, including by those leading the process from within the bench, as well as about the Court’s invaluable contributions to comparative jurisprudence in the development of social policies in the global South, including in India, South Africa and a number of other Latin American countries.  The aim of this inquiry is to examine the implications of the Court’s latest decision regarding the question of the end of displacement.

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