Days after passage of the victims' law, the government announced it had identified the remains of nearly 10,000 people buried in unmarked graves over the past 40 years by matching morgue reports with fingerprint records. Another 12,000 people, whose records were incomplete, remain unidentified. Many are presumed to be victims of the conflict although only 445 were on the official list of the disappeared.

The law specifies that those who qualify for compensation are the victims of "armed conflict" to distinguish them from victims of common criminals. President Juan Manuel Santos' predecessor, Alvaro Uribe, refused to recognise the existence of an armed conflict in Colombia, saying instead that the country faced a "terrorist threat".

Though Santos was Uribe's defence minister, the reference to the internal armed conflict in the government-sponsored bill showed he has distanced himself from Uribe's stance. "There has been an armed conflict in this country for some time," Santos said. The law also recognises victims of the state, a move which Uribe opposed.


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