Human Rights Defenders: 29 killed in First Six Months of 2011

News from Colombia | on: Tuesday, 9 August 2011


In 2010, statistics showed that the threat level against human rights defenders’ lives in Colombia was growing at an exponential rate, thus making a catastrophic situation for human rights defenders quite possible. In the first half of 2011, that situation has become a reality: 29 defenders assassinated, and 145 attacked or threatened.

Bogotá D.C. August 8, 2011 – We are Defenders Program Communications

Untenable, unsustainable, terrible – this is the best way to describe the aggression of human rights defenders in Colombia. The situation can be seen in the last report from the Information System on Aggressions Against Human Rights Defenders in Colombia – ISAAHRDC by the non-governmental protection program for human rights defenders, We are Defenders, which compiled and systematized information about the period of January to June 2011.

A total of 145 individual aggressions against human rights defenders, broken down in 93 threats, 29 assassinated, 10 physically attacked, eight arbitrary detentions, one injured and one a victim of an arbitrary use of the judicial system, occurred in the first six months of 2011. Forced disappearances of human rights defenders reappeared, as three were the victim of this crime in the time period studied.

The 29 social leaders and human rights defenders murdered in the first half of 2011 bring the National Government’s Protection System into question, and are an indicator of the serious humanitarian situation that Colombia suffers.

The We are Defenders program worryingly reports an increase of 129% in individual aggressions against human rights defenders in Colombia in 2011 when compared to the same time period during 2010. Between January and June 2010, there were 64 cases reported by the ISAAHRDC, while in the same period in 2011, there were 145 cases.

According to the ISAAHRDC, in the majority of the cases, the actor presumed responsible were paramilitaries with 59% of the aggressions, while in 29% of the cases, the responsible party was unknown. Members of the State Security Forces (National Army, National Police, SIJIN, Public Prosecutor’s Office) appear as the presumed responsible party in 10% of cases. FARC guerrillas were presumed responsible for 2% of cases.

On average, between January and June 2011, a human rights defender was attacked or threatened every day-and-a-half.

The report also points out that of the 145 aggressions registered in the Information System, the departments of Antioquia, Caquetá, Bogotá D.C., Cauca, Sucre, Valle del Cauca and Risaralda are those which register the highest number of violations of the rights of human rights defenders and social leaders.

An increase in individual aggressions against social leaders, leaders of displaced persons organizations, and leaders of land restitution processes, of truth, justice and reparation processes and of land, indigenous and victims organizations was evident between January and June of 2011.

The statistics make evident the lack of preventive and protective policies from authorities, especially from the National Public Prosecutor’s Office which has yet to carry out an investigation into the aggressions against human rights and social leaders, despite the demands by the Human Rights, Peace and Development Platforms, which make up part of the National Table for Guarantees.

The complete statistics from the Information System on Aggressions Against Human Rights Defenders in Colombia – ISAAHRDC for January to June, 2011, and other time periods, can be found at

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