Thousands of social leaders – including human rights activists, community organisers and trade unionists – have been killed in recent decades in Colombia and the violence against them continues today. Amongst the victims are trade unionists – close to 3,000 in the last 30 years.
According to Colombian human rights organisations, 533 social leaders were killed between January 2016 and December 2018. At least 85 former FARC guerrillas taking part in the reincorporation process have also been killed.
Illegal criminal organisations, which often include old paramilitary structures that functioned alongside state security forces, are still the principal perpetrators of the violence. Violence has particularly increased in rural areas where community organisations are working to implement the peace agreement chapters on coca crop substitution and land reform.
The violence is a continuation of a deeply entrenched strategy to protect local political and economic interests. The perpetrators are rarely brought to justice.
Despite the dangers social leaders in Colombia continue to organise, to fight, and to set an international example in the global struggle for peace, human rights, and social justice.
- Reduce the level of impunity for crimes committed against human rights activists.
- Pressure the British government to prioritise human rights in its dealings with Colombia.
- Support social leaders on the front line of the struggle for peace and social justice.
- Provide up to date information in English on the human rights situation in Colombia.