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Land ownership victory for Colombian farmers in Las Pavas

January 2013

Carmen Martinez In September 2009, The Guardian publicly exposed The Body Shop for getting raw materials from a company that had violently evicted 123 farmers' families with riot police in Las Pavas, Colombia.

The Colombian company accused the farmers of invading the land and collaborating with the guerrillas.

More than three years after this event, the State Institute of Rural Development declared that most of this land was public, not the property of the palm companies, and should be returned to its rightful owners, the Las Pavas community.

For more than six years, the farmers' families peacefully claimed their right to the land despite enduring brutal eviction, death threats and defamation.

They are now delighted as this is a decisive step toward what we hope will result in the legalisation of their ownership and land restitution.

A strong defence

This success is the result of Christian Aid partner PDPMM's work and the support of national and international organisations.

In the past three months PDPMM set up a 'shadow' team with technical capacities (legal, agronomy, cartographer) to participate in the Incoder process, to ensure representation of the farmers. This resulted in a strong defence that positively influenced the ruling.

Christian Aid also participated with successful advocacy and media initiatives in Colombia and in the UK in favour of the farmers, since the case became famous for the initial involvement of The Body Shop.

This decision does not resolve everything. The State has to give the land to the farmers in a way that will guarantee a sustainable, durable and effective enjoyment of their land right.

Find out more

February 2012: Human rights defender of the month

May 2011: Justice for the Las Pavas community

October 2010: Body Shop cuts ties with palm oil supplier

Colombian farmers return home 


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