Almost 95% of murders of trade unionists in Colombia have gone unpunished, the United Nations revealed Tuesday.
Between 1984 and 2011, 2,800 unionists were killed, 216 were disappeared, 83 were tortured, and 163 were abducted, nearly all with impunity, the Colombia Office of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) said in a report.
According to “Recognizing the Past, Constructing the Future,” the number of recorded killings has dropped in recent years but the number of threats has increased since 2007.
Coordinator of the report Carlos Miguel Ortiz told press he doubted whether the rate of violence had declined at all.
“We should ask ourselves if it’s a drop in the violence or if it is a transformation of its manifestations,” Ortiz told reporters Monday. The U.N. investigator added that of these crimes, “only 22% of registered killings refer to an alleged perpetrator.”
Paramilitary groups are recognized as the perpetrators 14.9% of the time, the guerrillas 5.04%, and agents of the state 1.69%.
“Concentrated violence raises the question of whether it can be random and general or if it is systematic, and in this case-who is behind,” said Ortiz. “The debate on the authorship of the crimes is crucial for the right to truth, justice and reparation.”
“One of the main causes of these murders is what is called insurgent prejudice, that is, to develop trade union activity is considered to form part of a guerrilla group or armed insurgent group,” said Bruno Moro, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator of the United Nations in Colombia at the press meeting.
The unions most affected by violence were the Colombian Federation of teachers (Fecode), the Oil Workers Union (USO), and unions within the banana industry.