Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance Office Fact Sheet

Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG) Office Fact Sheet

OBJECTIVE

USAID/Colombia’s Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance Office focuses on supporting the Government of Colombia (GOC) and civil society to increase institutional presence, foster a culture of respect for human rights, strengthen citizen participation, promote access to justice, increase public investment, and provide services to historically underserved and conflict-affected rural areas where illicit activity often goes unchecked.

COMPONENTS

Human Rights

While Colombia has improved its human rights trends over the course of the past 10 years, violations (massacres, assassinations, and kidnappings) continue to occur with impunity, especially in rural areas.  USAID helps the GOC, oversight institutions, and civil society to promote a culture of respect for human rights, prevent further violations, and respond effectively when violations do occur.  Specifically, USAID supports implementation of the National Human Rights Education and Private Sector Participation plans, development and implementation of protection strategies by the GOC and civil society organizations (CSOs), investigations into human rights violations through the Attorney General’s Office, and building local-level capacity to prevent human rights violations. 

Delivery of Public Services

Ensuring that government services reach citizens, especially marginalized populations in historically neglected areas, is crucial to peace implementation.  Currently, USAID is helping the National Planning Department and sub-national governments to implement a multi-billion dollar royalties system that re-directs revenues earned from the country’s natural resources to underserved, conflict-affected areas.  USAID is also building the capacity of 40 municipal governments to improve their financial management systems and their processes for gathering citizen input.  Assistance is provided to strengthen the organizational and advocacy skills of civil society organizations while empowering citizens to influence the government’s priorities and agenda through democratic means.  Moreover, USAID helps national and local authorities, as well as CSOs, set up transparent systems that facilitate increased citizen oversight of the use of public resources in order to reduce corruption and strengthen election transparency. 

Access to Justice

The ability to resolve grievances, whether through the formal justice system or alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, is essential for building the social fabric of communities that are recovering from decades of conflict.  If justice services are not accessible in rural areas, illegal armed actors will continue to victimize citizens.  USAID helps the GOC to promote greater access to justice in 30 municipalities through services offered by justice houses, mobile justice brigades, and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.  Support is provided to reform justice institutions, increasing the quality and efficiency of formal justice services.  Assistance to both civil society and justice institutions helps to address the unique barriers to justice for women, particularly regarding gender-based violence.  In addition, USAID provides assistance to land restitution courts and judges to improve the efficiency, consistency, and reliability of rulings to help persons displaced by the armed conflict return to their lands.

RESULTS

  • Support to the National Ombudsman’s nationwide early warning system to prevent human rights abuses.
  • Trained over 12,000 human rights defenders on issues such as vulnerable populations, anti-discrimination, gender-based violence, and mechanisms for promotion, protection, and response to human rights violations.
  • Provided legal services to 35,955 rural citizens through mobile justice brigades.
  • Designed and deployed training methodology for prosecutors and police to investigate gender-based violence cases in coordination with the Attorney General’s Office.
  • Established the first judicial governance structure in Colombia through the Specialized Jurisdiction for Land Restitution. 
  • Mobilized over $1 billion of GOC royalty funds to improve service delivery and increase the legitimacy of the government in conflict-affected regions.
  • Assisted the GOC and private sector in the design and implementation of the Tax Deduction Schemes for Public Works (Obras por Impuestos), a tax benefit model to boost private investment in conflict-affected municipalities, which includes citizen participation and oversight. 

Last updated: June 22, 2018

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