Truth-Telling and Internal Displacement in Colombia

Roberto Vidal-López
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An internal armed conflict involving the government, leftist guerrillas, and a variety of paramilitary groups and criminal bands has endured in Colombia for the last 60 years, generating massive levels of displacement. A comprehensive truth commission that investigates major human rights violations, including the uprooting of millions of Colombian citizens, will be essential to a transition to peace. However, given the ongoing nature of the armed conflict, a consensus exists between the state and civil society that the establishment of an official national truth commission should be postponed to a future, post-conflict period. In the meantime, other types of truth-telling initiatives, sponsored by official and unofficial actors, have made important contributions to upholding the rights of the internally displaced. This paper offers a contextual analysis of the many truth-telling initiatives that may help direct the country toward peace, as well as the challenges they have faced and the appropriate timing of future truth-telling processes.