At least 42 human rights defenders and community leaders, and seven demobilized FARC rebels have been assassinated so far this year, according to a leading think tank.
In the cases of both social leaders and FARC members this is already more than the NGO registered in the first two months of last year.
Indepaz released the list of assassination victims two days before the director of the National Protection Unit resigned after the bodyguards’ labor union accused him of funneling resources to celebrities instead of people at imminent risk of assassination.
While Duque dreams on, UN genocide prevention chief alerted
The government of President Ivan Duque has come under increased pressure over its failure to guarantee security to vulnerable communities and their leaders, and former FARC guerrillas.
Duque has been claimed that the killings of social leaders dropped 25% last year, which was fiercely contradicted by the United Nations’ human rights office.
The UN’s Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, has been informed about the ongoing mass killings by the UN’s mission chief in Colombia.
Peace advocacy movement Defendamos La Paz additionally asked the top UN official to get involved in an attempt to curb the systematic killing of social leaders.
Renewed concerns about old phenomenon
The systematic assassinations of social leaders is not new, but has drawn increased international attention since 2016 because of Colombia’s peace process, which is monitored by the UN Security Council.
During the armed conflict, human rights defenders — or anyone criticizing the government or military for that matter — was considered an “internal enemy.”
This Cold War concept gave the military and their paramilitary associates the perceived “right to fight and to exterminate
social workers, trade unionists, men and women who are not supportive of the establishment, and who are assumed to be communist extremists. And this could mean anyone, including human rights activists such as myself,” according to late Foreign Minister Alberto Vasquez.
The 2016 peace deal with the FARC contains a specific chapter that obliges the government to end this practice, but so far without success.