Human Rights Watch slammed Colombia’s government on Wednesday for failing to act against deadly violence that has killed more than 420 human rights defenders since 2016.
In a report, the international human rights organization said “the authorities do not exercise effective control over several areas previously controlled by the FARC,” the former guerrilla group that demobilized in 2017.
This government failure “has largely enabled violence against human rights defenders,” according to HRW, which stressed that particularly violence against native Colombian leaders was “disproportionately high.”
The government has deployed troops to many areas, but has not strengthened the justice system at the same time or ensured adequate access to economic and educational opportunities, and public services.
Human Rights Watch
The failures of the government of President Ivan Duque to provide basic services and implement the 2016 peace deal with the FARC “have significantly limited the government’s efforts to counteract the power of armed groups and prevent human rights violations,” the human rights organization said.
HRW particularly decried the government’s refusal to continue the implementation of the peace deal’s proposed substitution of coca, the basic ingredient of cocaine, which put community leaders who have promoted this counternarcotics strategy at risk.
It is fundamental the government takes meaningful steps to end this decades-long cycle of violence, which includes considering alternative approaches to drug policy that reduce the profitability of the drug trade.
Human Rights Watch
The human rights organization additionally blasted the National Protection Unit, which is supposed to offer protection to threatened citizens, and other government agencies to respond to alerts issued by the government’s human rights office.
The prosecution additionally admitted to identifying no more than 57 suspects in the 421 assassination investigations, stressed HRW. In 19 of the 34 conviction, the judge did not specify the motive of the murder.
The human rights organization confirmed that Duque has failed to comply with his obligation to convene the so-called National Commission for Security Guarantees” which was conceived to formulate policies to dismantle illegal armed groups, particularly those sponsored by the private sector or in collusion with the security forces.
The president’s Democratic Center party has opposed the peace process since it first entered Congress in 2014. The president’s political patron and the far-right party’s founder, former President Alvaro Uribe, has long stigmatized human rights defenders.