Colombian court orders army to leave tribal land
08/03/2012 03:32 GMT
BOGOTA, Aug 2, 2012 (AFP) - Colombia's constitutional court on Thursday ordered the army to withdraw from tribal land in the country's southeast, a decision Bogota said it intended to appeal.
In the ruling, the court said the Jiw and Nukak indigenous tribes were in "grave danger of being physically and culturally exterminated because of the armed conflict and the failure of the state to offer them adequate protection."
The court gave the Defense Ministry six months to return the Barrancon refuge area to the Jiw tribe in Guaviare province currently occupied by special forces and navy infantry. The area is used as a major training base.
Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon expressed his intent to appeal the court's decision, underscoring to reporters that the army had "great" relations with the native tribes in the area.
Luis Evelis Andrade, head of the Columbia's national indigenous organization ONIC told AFP that the decision not only "justifies the demands of the indians but also affirms that it is necessary to talk with indigenous people before setting up a military base" on their reservations.
The court's ruling comes after riot police clashed with members of another indigenous group in the south of the country in July, retaking a military post after a weeklong standoff by demonstrators demanding outsiders get off their land.
Local native leaders had been demanding that both the military and leftist rebels leave what they consider their ancestral homeland.
For more than half a century, the government has been battling leftist guerillas with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
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