Colombia: Duque government warned, but no action taken to prevent hundreds of murders

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Paris, Bogotá, 7 December 2021. The FIDH, the Jose Alvear Restrepo group of attorneys (Cajar) and the Somos Defensores program, in our report published today entitled "Muertes anunciadas" (Deaths foretold), reported that the Colombian state was advised and knew of the high risk of serious human rights violations. Nonetheless, the national government, headed by Iván Duque Márquez, which is responsible for deploying an institutional response to deal with these risks, did not act diligently.

The figures are dramatic. Between 2018, at the start of the administration of President Iván Duque, and June 2021, there were 572 homicides of social leaders and human rights defenders, 254 homicides of former militants of the defunct FARC-EP and 184 massacres.

The deterioration of the human rights situation in the country and the consolidation and expansion of various types of armed groups during the five years that the Peace Agreement has been in effect highlights the lack of adequate implementation of the mechanisms established in it, which has contributed to a reconfiguration of violence throughout the country, involving high risk to communities, organizational processes, individuals in the process of reincorporation and human rights defenders that cannot go unnoticed by the international community.

It is the duty of the State to prevent serious human rights violations, especially those in which the risk has been foreseen. The Colombian State has had an early alert system (SAT: Sistema de Alertas Tempranas) since 2001 at the head of the ombudsman’s office, which was reinforced in the peace agreement and has functioned relatively efficiently at monitoring and warning about a large part of the violent events in the country. In 66.3% of the areas indicated in the 196 early alerts issued in 2018-2020, there were homicides of social leaders and human rights defenders.

The report calls on the Colombian government to commit publicly to full implementation of the peace agreement, assume it as a commitment of the State and, in particular, ensure the safety of communities, organizations, social leadership and signatories of the peace agreement.

Five years after the signing of the peace agreement, 831 human rights defenders and social leaders have been murdered according to the ombudsman’s office, as well as 286 persons in the process of reincorporation according to the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia. This even though the agreement signed by the Colombian State and the FARC-EP in 2016 claimed to lay the political and humanitarian groundwork to put an end to over 50 years of armed conflict and facilitate government action on public policy instruments to act on the structural causes of the conflict, prevent new incidents and ensure that they would not be repeated.

The organizations likewise caution the future national government to comply with the provisions of the peace agreement and commit to responding forcefully and in a timely fashion to the risks they have been advised of.

See the full report here (in spanish):

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