Project in Colombia

In 2012, the Center ÜBERLEBEN conducted a project in cooperation with the Colombian human rights organization Tierra Vida on experiences of internally displaced persons within the armed conflict in Colombia.

Victims of enforced displacement were asked about their state of mental health and their experiences during the armed conflict. Their opinions regarding reparations within the current Justice and Peace process, as well as their attitudes on reconciliation and forgiveness, were also evaluated.

Between September and December 2012, 454 internally displaced people from four departments of Colombia were interviewed.

The armed conflict

Colombia is faced with an ongoing armed conflict between guerilla, paramilitary units and the Colombian army for more than fifty years. It is estimated that one third of the Colombian population suffered severe human rights violations including torture, kidnapping and massacres. About 10% of the population (almost 5 million) were forcibly displaced from their land.

During the last years, the Colombian government has introduced mechanisms to redress the legacies of these human rights abuses. Two important mechanisms of this process are the Justice and Peace Law (implemented 2005) and the Victims and Land Restitution Law (implemented 2011).

These laws aim at indemnifying victims through judicial reparations (e.g. truth talks) as well as through financial reparations or the restitution of stolen land.


The project was funded by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Focus on Reconciliation

In its work the Center ÜBERLEBEN has a special interest in the process of reconciliation and conducts projects in Colombia as well as with victims of the Khmer-Rouge-Regime in Cambodia and
Kurdish refugees from Turkey.


Carina Heeke
(Ph.D. candidate)
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