The United Nations on Tuesday expressed its worry over the alleged murders of two Colombian activists and insisted that the government increase security measures for human rights leaders.
“We are very concerned about the murders of Cordoba victims leader, Ermes Enrique Vidal Osorio, and the peasant leader from Cauca, Gustavo Adolfo Pizo. We urge the authorities to [take up] a prompt and effective investigation of these crimes,” said Todd Howland, the United Nations (UN) Representative to Colombia for the High Commissioner of Human Rights, in a press release.
Vidal, who was 60 at the time of his death, disappeared March 21. His body was found on the banks of the Sinu River two days later. He was part of the Victims Bureau of Valencia in the Cordoba department in northern Colombia, and a legal representative for the Association of the Displaced Population of San Rafael de Piru (ASOVER).
Vidal was displaced forcibly from his farm in Batata, Córdoba, several years ago. Given little recourse, he decided to return to his land outside of the legal process, the Victims and Land Restitution Law. Vida received threats from armed men, warning him against reclaiming his land, which had been inhabited by other people. According to the UN press release, Vidal is the third member of his family killed for defending their rights.
Pizo, 31, was the president of the Association of Peasant Workers of Totoro in the Cauca department and the secretary of the Union of Small Farmers of Cauca (SINPEAGRIC).
“We are very concerned that last year 97% of killings of [human rights] defenders occurred in rural areas,” Howland tweeted during a twitter barrage intended to raise awareness about the murders.
“The office [of the UN] urges the authorities of the state to implement effective measures [to protect] the human rights defenders and rural activists,” the press release concluded.
- Comunicados de prensa (High Commissioner of Human Rights)
- ONU rechaza asesinato de lideres campesinos en Colombia (Caracol Radio)