....The law contains two main parts, the first refers to the judicial process and the conditions under which the members of illegal armed groups (either paramilitary of guerrilla) can benefit from an alternative punishment. That is among others to fully confess their crimes, depose their weapons, enter into a peace agreement, and stop their interference in public affairs, release the people they have kidnapped, contribute to finding the victims of forced disappearance.

The second part of the law refers to the rights of the victims to truth, justice and reparation.

For the first time in Colombia’s history victims came to the center of the attention as it was understood that they were they hinge between justice and peace. Beneficiaries will only be entitled to an alternative punishment if, and only if, they confessed all their crimes, were subject to a criminal procedure by independent prosecutors and judges and, most important of all, if they repaired the victims of their atrocities.

This model of restorative justice parallels similar systems in other countries devastated by conflict. But it takes an unprecedented, perhaps precarious, step toward both symbolic and material recompense.

New debates in human rights law have in fact broadened the concept of restorative justice, popularized during South Africa’s transition from Apartheid. There have recently been movements for reparations for descendants of enslaved Africans in America, and for the so-called “climate debt“—the damages created by global warming—that is owed by rich industrialized nations to indigenous peoples and other poor communities in the Global South.

Through its reparations law, the Colombian government pledges to offset survivors’ losses through monetary compensation, land redistribution, and other restorative measures. The core of the system is not retribution but repair.

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