Indepaz reports that 95 social leaders have been killed in Colombia in the first few months of 2020

Published by Brent Patterson on

Human rights defender Marco Rivadeneira (in the photo above) was killed by armed men on March 19 of this year in Puerto Asis, Putumayo, Colombia. He is one of the 95 human rights defenders who have been killed in Colombia this year.

On May 9, La Republica reported, “According to the latest report from the Colombian Institute for Development and Peace Studies [Indepaz] 95 social leaders or human rights defenders have been assassinated in the country so far in 2020.”

“During the two months of the COVID-19 crisis in Colombia, 32 have died; and 19 since compulsory isolation began.”

The article notes, “At least 24 former members of the extinct guerrilla group of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), who were part of the peace process, as well as seven relatives of social leaders and an escort [have also been killed this year].”

On May 6, RCN Radio had reported, “The Attorney General of the Nation, Fernando Carrillo, said that the country cannot allow these deaths to continue and warned that strategies must be created to rethink protection schemes for social leaders and ex-combatants because, even, murders have occurred in the interior of the houses.”

Carrillo said, “Many of them are being killed in their homes or in their family environment, which means thinking about rethinking these security schemes in the midst of social confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The article adds, “Carrillo said that the absence of public force in some territories gives rise to evaluate the strengthening of protection schemes by the National Protection Unit (UNP) and improve the lines of attention in the case of threats.”

The Foundation for Press Freedom has reported that the National Protection Unit’s Risk Assessment and Protection Measures Recommendation Committee suspended meetings to conduct risk assessments and respond to requests for protective measures on March 19 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In additon, this April 2019 report produced by several groups including PBI-Colombia notes, “The National Protection Unit … is failing to respond to the urgent needs of social leaders and human rights defenders.”

The National Protection Unit was established in 2011 to provide armed protection to union leaders, human rights activists, politicians, and journalists.

Indepaz has previously reported that between November 24, 2016 (when the final peace agreement between the state and FARC weas signed) and July 20, 2019, 627 social leaders and human rights defenders and 138 former FARC-EP guerrillas in the process of reincorporation  assassinated were killed.

Photo: On July 26, 2019, the Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project was present for the “march for life and the defence of social leaders” in Bogota, Barrancabermeja and Apartado, the three cities where PBI-Colombia volunteers are based.

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