Colombia’s government “lacks the will” to protect its indigenous people, an indigenous leader said on Thursday.
The Colombian government has not been fulfilling the commitments it made to its indigenous peoples, said the leader of the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC) at a session of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Only two weeks ago, the government and the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) reached an “historic” 25-point agreement over territorial and human rights, granting Colombia’s native communities increased judicial, administrative and political autonomy.
It was dubbed historic because it was the first time in the modern history of Colombia that indigenous rights has been spelled out in a specific manner. But the pact was largely a result of pressure put on the government by indigenous protests.
CRIC leader Maria Ovidia Pelechor said that because the government had made this agreement, they had an obligation to fulfill it.
“We suffered dire situations in the armed conflict. The militarization of indigenous territories and peoples lives greatly affects our communities,” she said.
Pelechor emphasized that her organization was fighting to stop the recruitment of their youths by the army and armed groups, while there continues to be numerous cases of sexual violence in their communities.
“Taking the bodies of women by force is a symbol of intimidation and also undermines the identities of the people themselves,” she said.