Practice Relating to Rule 129. The Act of Displacement
Under Colombia’s Basic Military Manual (1995), it is prohibited for the parties to conflict to force the displacement of the civilian population.
With respect to non-international armed conflicts in particular, the manual states that it is prohibited to “oblige civilian persons to move because of the conflict, except if security or imperative military reasons so demand”.
According to Colombia’s Law on Internally Displaced Persons (1997), Colombians have the right not to be forcibly displaced.
Colombia’s Penal Code (2000) punishes “anyone who, during an armed conflict, without military justification, deports, expels or carries out a forced transfer or displacement of the civilian population from its own territory”.
In analysing the constitutionality of the 1977 Additional Protocol II in 1995, Colombia’s Constitutional Court found in relation to the rules on the protection of civilians and persons hors de combat:
According to the statistics compiled by the Colombian Episcopacy, more than half a million Colombians have been displaced from their homes as a result of the violence … The principal cause of displacement involves violations of international humanitarian law associated with the armed conflict.
In 2004, in its third periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Colombia stated:
88. The problem of people displaced by the violence worsened in the years leading up to 2002 as the internal armed conflict flared up and spread, mostly as a result of the activities of self-defence and guerrilla groups who wanted to take control of certain areas, but also, indirectly and to a lesser extent, as a result of the presence of State forces in areas where they clashed with illegal groups.
89. This phenomenon is … one of the most serious human rights violations.