Human Rights Watch (HRW) Friday called on Colombian authorities to investigate the “spate of killings” carried out by illegal armed groups in 2011 and to protect indigenous groups threatened by violence.
According to the human rights organization, 76 people were killed in massacres throughout Colombia and 14 indigenous leaders were killed this year in the northern department of Antioquia and Cordoba alone.
HRW attributed the rise in massacres to both neo-paramilitary groups and leftist guerrilla groups like the ELN and FARC, who are suspected in the recent killing of seven near the southern town of San Vicente del Caguan.
“This massacre fits the pattern of cruel abuses committed by the FARC, who routinely target and murder civilians without the slightest respect for the laws of war,” Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch, said on the NGO’s website.
Vivanco also stressed an increase in violence against indigenous peoples in the north of Colombia and called on authorities to impose measures to protect these groups against violence.
“Indigenous communities suffer extreme violence at the hands of Colombia’s powerful armed groups, including successor groups to paramilitaries,” Vivanco said. “Colombian authorities need to take urgent measures to protect indigenous communities from the brutal armed groups that frequently murder, threaten, and forcibly displace them.”