A group of 73 members of the United States Congress have submitted a letter urging the Trump administration to take action to protect the lives of Colombian community activists and human rights defenders following an escalation of violence that has seen over 225 people murdered since the Colombian peace agreement was signed in November 2016.
The letter, which was addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, was signed by the representatives Jim McGovern, Eliot Engel, John Lewis, Norma Torres, Rosa DeLauro, Jan Schakowsky, Hank Johnson and several others. It calls on the US government to implement measures to safeguard the lives of Colombian activists, community organisers, trade unionists and social leaders. The letter also says that guaranteeing security is in the interests of the United States, with Colombia representing one of Washington’s closest allies in Latin America.
‘Colombia is facing a human rights crisis at a critical time as they continue the essential process of implementing the historic peace accords which ended their decades-long war’, said Senator McGovern. ‘We strongly urge the State Department and USAID to provide the resources and necessary support for Colombia to end this terrible violence and secure the peace so many have fought for. It is essential that the US press the current Colombian government and its successor to make these actions a priority’.
‘The United States must act immediately to support the men and women on the ground in Colombia struggling to protect human rights, promote freedom of association, and liberate the country from violence and extrajudicial killings. We cannot stand idly by while grassroots organisers, unionists, and civil society advocates are threatened and murdered. Allowing such violations of international human rights in Colombia to go unchecked is unacceptable’, said DeLauro.
Many of the killings have targeted people working to implement the peace agreement, particularly in the areas of land reform and illicit crop substitution. In the majority of cases, there have been no arrests.