Forty-nine human rights defenders were killed in Colombia last year while violence against these defenders went up by 36%, an NGO collective said Saturday.
Spanish press agency EFE was given a report by “Somos Defensores” (We are Defenders), in which the organization of NGOs denounced that 239 violent actions were taken against human rights defenders in 2011.
The violent actions consisted of assassinations, threats, forced disappearances, assassination attempts, arbitrary detentions, assaults and an irregular application of the justice system, said the organization.
The 239 violations constitute a 36% increase compared to 2010 when there were 174 violent acts against human rights defenders registered.
According to Somos Defensores, 25 of the 49 assassinations took place in the northwestern departments of Antioquia, Cordoba and Sucre and were committed by neo-paramilitary groups that are resisting the return of land stolen by paramilitary organization AUC, its successors and local elites.
“The fact that in 50% of the reported cases the presumed responsible are the paramilitaries is an indication that these [groups] continue to act uncontrollably,” the report said.
The NGO collective said that “the numbers prove the existing distance between the reality in Colombia’s regions and the reflectivity of recent policies of prevention and protection as formulated by the authorities.”
The human rights defenders called for an increased commitment of national judicial authorities to curb the violence against human rights defenders.