Practice Relating to Rule 83. Removal or Neutralization of Landmines
Colombia’s Law Implementing the Ottawa Convention (2002) states:
The “National Humanitarian Missions for the verification of facts and the formulation of recommendations” have the following functions:
1. Carry out visits to places where the presence of anti-personnel mines has been established or is suspected.
2. Verify the existence of anti-personnel mines in the visited place by means of inspections and interviews.
6. Formulate recommendations and observations so that the State adopts all necessary measures as soon as possible to ensure the detected or suspected anti-personnel mines are properly marked and isolated until their destruction.
Colombia’s Law Extending the Law on Judicial Cooperation (2010) states:
In order to guarantee the effective enjoyment of rights and fundamental freedoms of communities that have suffered armed violence in Colombia, the National Government will, through the Ministry of National Defence, adopt the measures needed, on the basis of international standards and humanitarian principles, for regulating humanitarian demining activities so that they can be undertaken by civilian organizations.
In 2008, in its Comprehensive Human Rights and IHL Policy, the Ministry of National Defence of Colombia stated:
157. Colombia is one of the countries with the highest number of new victims of anti-personnel mines: there are more than 1100 new victims per year, killed or injured by mines planted by illegal armed organizations. Between January 1990 and November 2007 there were 11,742 incidents caused by anti-personnel mines and unexploded ordnance, resulting in 6,548 victims of whom ,286 (65%) were military personnel and 2,262 (35%) were civilians.
158. In response to this problem Colombia devised an “Integrated Action Plan against Anti-personnel Mines and Unexploded Ordnance 2004-2009”, whereby a Presidential Programme of Integrated Action against Anti-personnel Mines was set up to coordinate, monitor and evaluate efforts. This Plan includes strategies for reducing the risk posed by mines through military and humanitarian mine clearance, a comprehensive effort to help survivors, a scheme for keeping records of victims and monitoring their care, decentralization of policy at departmental and municipal level and promoting awareness of the rights of victims.
159. The policy of the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces High Command in relation to mine clearance has three main objectives: military mine clearance; compliance with the  Ottawa Convention [on Anti-Personnel Mines]; and humanitarian mine clearance. Military mine clearance is the line of work which covers all the mine clearance activities undertaken by the National Security Forces in the course of their operations. The National Security Forces have opened breaches in the minefields to allow troop advances, have mapped, reported and destroyed minefields and have dealt with emergencies within their capabilities. However, they have had to abstain from signposting mined areas, to ensure that the signs are not moved to other places by the illegal armed groups.
160. For the purposes of compliance with the terms of the Ottawa Convention the Ministry of Defence has established the following main objectives: the destruction of the stocks of antipersonnel mines held by the Armed Forces; the clearing of military bases that were mined before the Ottawa Convention came into force; the elimination of the risks surrounding these bases in order to facilitate the return of communities; humanitarian mine clearance; and the care and rehabilitation of military victims of anti-personnel mines. As a result, seven military bases have been cleared. …
161. In addition, under Law 759 of 2002 [Law Implementing the Ottawa Convention] an Inter[-]Institutional Commission for Action against Anti-personnel Mines was established. The main role of the Commission is verification of Colombia’s compliance with its obligations under the Ottawa Convention and the promotion and coordination of the process of cooperation between the State, civil society and the international community for humanitarian mine clearance and assistance to victims.
162. Building a humanitarian mine clearance capability – part of our commitment under the Ottawa Convention – has been one of the priorities of the Ministry of Defence, despite the fact that Colombia does not receive adequate international support to tackle the job. Humanitarian mine clearance goes hand in hand with consolidation: where the security situation has changed thanks to the Consolidation Plan and it can be assumed with a high level of probability that the illegal armed organizations will not lay new mines, humanitarian mine clearance can proceed.
163. For this purpose, with the collaboration of the Anti-personnel Mines Observatory of the Office of the Vice-President, a Humanitarian Mine Clearance Company was created within the School of Engineers, operating under the aegis of the Armed Forces High Command. The Company has four platoons and operates in accordance with the international standards on humanitarian mine clearance. The project has received support from the OAS [Organization of American States] – which has endorsed the project – and from the US and Canadian governments. The members of the Company have been trained to the highest standards by international experts.
164. The Company has already begun the task of humanitarian mine clearance in consolidation zones. At present minefields are being cleared in Bajo Grande (municipality of San Jacinto, Bolívar), where 60 families were displaced in 1999 because of mines placed by illegal armed organizations. Thanks to the work of one of the mine clearance platoons, which has been locating and exploding the mines found in this area one by one, it is hoped the communities will be able to return within the next few months.
In 2008, in its sixth periodic report to the Human Rights Committee, Colombia stated:
238. Land mines. In January 2001 the Antipersonnel Mine Monitoring Unit was established under the Presidential Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Programme, under the supervision of the Vice President. The Unit is the Government mechanism for the implementation of the  Ottawa Convention [on Anti-Personnel Mines] through different lines of action: care of survivors, prevention and awareness programmes, humanitarian de-mining, information management and institutionalization and sustainability of the National Mine Action Plan.
240. Even amid the constant and severe terrorist attacks of which our country is the victim, the Government has organized and launched the Humanitarian Demining Campaign, which deals with the demining process, in order to strengthen the protection of affected communities.
242. Despite the efforts of the national Government, Colombia is currently the country with the highest number of victims of these inhuman devices, all because of organized illegal armed groups which continue to plague the country.
244. … The existence of minefields has been confirmed in 31 out of 32 departments and, because the devices are made of plastic and are difficult to detect, the country will have to live with this problem for at least the next 50 years.
[emphasis in original]
In 2009, Colombia’s National Council for Social and Economic Policy approved the National Policy for a Comprehensive Action against Anti-Personnel Mines, Unexploded Ordnance and Improvised Explosive Devices. The Policy states:
A. Public International Law
It is necessary to highlight different aspects of the  Ottawa Convention [on Anti-Personnel Mines]. … [T]he Convention obliges each State Party to remove and/or destroy, within 10 years from its entry into force for that State Party, all anti-personnel mines [in mined areas] under its jurisdiction or control. Nevertheless, it allows for the possibility of asking for an extension, for a maximum of 10 years, in the face of the impossibility of eliminating all minefields in the national territory. …
VI. Plan of Action
Output 2.2.1 The capacity of the Armed Forces to carry out humanitarian demining operations in the national territory shall be increased.
Stepping up humanitarian demining operations will require an increasing commitment in terms of resources. …
Logistical, technical and technological capacities for humanitarian demining operations in the national territory shall be expanded.
The Policy differentiates between humanitarian demining and military demining as follows:
: Activities leading to the elimination of the dangers of mines and unexploded ordnance, such as carrying out a technical study, mapping, removal, marking of mined zones, post-demining documentation, liaison with the community on activities related to the mines and return of cleared lands … . Military Demining
, on the other hand, concerns the destruction of the above-mentioned explosive devices within military operations, with the aim of providing for the mobility of troops (which implies that not all devices found will necessarily be destroyed).