Colombia human rights update February 2024

Trade unionists, community council members and former guerrillas were among the victims of Colombia’s human rights crisis in February. Although the Petro government has taken important steps to implement security measures contained in the 2016 peace agreement – after repeated urgent warnings by the UN were ignored by the previous government – the presence of armed groups in many regions continues to fuel instability and violence.

The first two months of 2024 saw 25 social leaders and five former FARC members murdered, while 12 massacres were committed. Here is JFC’s monthly update on the human rights crisis for February 2024.

N.B. This article does not provide a definitive list of all human rights violations committed in Colombia. Various others are likely to have been committed during the period. 

1 February – A former FARC member, Darío de Jesús Hernández Díaz, survived an attack in Riosucio, department of Caldas. He is based at the unofficial reincorporation space (NAR) La Pangola, where he participates in cooperatives of former guerrillas.

1 February – The Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC), which represents indigenous communities in north Cauca, one of the country’s most violent regions, issued an alert over fighting between rival armed groups in the Quizgo reservation in the municipality of Silvia. At least 83 people, including several children, were forced to abandon their homes because of the confrontation. The CRIC warned local residents to protect themselves and called on authorities to implement ceasefire mechanisms.

2 February – The day after warning over the impact of fighting on indigenous communities, the Cauca-based CRIC reported the abduction of eight civilians from the village of Villa Nuevo. The indigenous men were named as Orlando Fernández, Javier Bolaños, Nefar Fernández, Mauricio Muelas, Omar Fernández, Heladio Fernández, Einer Hurtado and Jairo Almendra. That same morning, an indigenous couple, José Adelmo Chocue Tombe and María Eugenia Cabiche Peña, were also abducted from their home in Silvia.

2 February – Following the murder of several JAC community council members last month, the wave of violence continued with the killing of Jhon Fredy Muchavisoy, JAC president in the district of Dos Quebradas in Puerto Asis, Putumayo. He was attacked at his home, while the continued presence of his assailants meant the body could not be removed until the following day.

3 February – Human rights defender Faber Rincón Pérez was murdered in Yondó, Antioquia, where he belonged to the Guardia Obrera organisation that defends the rights of local oil workers. He was attacked at around 11.30am while walking to his home. Faber is the 15th social activist murdered in 2024.

4 February – The treasurer of a JAC community council was murdered in Puerto Caicedo, Putumayo. Lirnedy Soto belonged to the JAC in the local district of La Pradera. He was abducted by armed assailants and found dead soon afterwards with gunshot wounds.

7 February – Four young men were killed in the eighth massacre of 2024, carried out in Fundación, Magdalena. Armed assailants attacked a group of people, killing two at the scene, while two others died in hospital soon afterwards. A fifth person was injured. The four dead victims were named as Hugo Fontalvo, David Cámaro González, Jaime González de la Cruz and Gustavo Bermúdez.

7 February – A well-known social activist, Aldinebin Ramos, was murdered in Ortega, Tolima. He was co-founder of the Association LGBTQ+ Chaparral Diversa, as well as a committee member on regional development programmes created in the 2016 peace agreement. Armed assailants attacked a group of people inside a home, killing Aldinebin and a woman and injuring two other people, one of whom was a six-year-old child.

10 February – Former FARC guerrilla and indigenous activist Eywar Yamid Moran was murdered in Santander de Quilichao, Cauca. He belonged to a workers’ cooperative, known as COOMEEP, that farms avocadoes and was also an indigenous guard member in the reservation of Pueblo Nuevo. At around 6.50pm, shortly after leaving a class, he and a companion were intercepted by armed assailants who shot Eywar various times. He is the fifth former FARC member in the peace process to be murdered in 2024.

11 February – Social activist Jaime Ernesto Páez Devia was murdered in Rioblanco, Tolima, where he organised coffee workers and local communities. Armed assailants attacked him at his home in the late evening. He is the 19th social activist murdered in 2024.

12 February – Armed assailants entered a small farm where they killed the owner and his son, before abducting two other young people and killing them as well. The brutal attack was carried out in Piamonte, Cauca. The murdered father and son were named as Mauricio Sandoval and Nersy Sandoval, while the two other victims were Jean Carlos Murcia and Sneider Murcia. The assailants subsequently attacked a school bus, leaving a 13-year-old girl and an adult injured. The motive behind the attack is unclear.

12 February – Former FARC guerrilla Jorge Vianey García survived an attack in El Tambo, Cauca.

13 February – Three people were killed in the tenth massacre of 2024, committed in the Valle del Cauca municipality of Ansermanuevo. Armed assailants opened fire on people inside a public establishment, killing two women and a man. The victims were named as María Tabares Vélez, Laura Rodríguez Uribe and Jhon Estrada Bedoya. Three other people were taken to hospital with injuries.

17 February – Human rights defenders reported that members of an armed group had forcibly recruited two indigenous youths in Milán, Caquetá. The group’s presence had also forced around 20 local indigenous communities to remain confined to their homes.

18 February – Three residents of the Ricaurte indigenous reservation were murdered in Paéz, Cauca, the 11th massacre of 2024. Armed assailants entered a nightclub at around 9.20pm and killed three people aged 20-25 years old. Indigenous communities in Cauca have faced extremely high levels of violence in recent years.

20 February – The year’s 20th murder of a social activist was carried out in Quibdó, capital of the regional department of Chocó. The victim was Jackson Romaña Cuesta, a volunteer member of the Chocó Civil Defence Committee, a social organisation dedicated to community rights, who also coordinated sporting activities in local communities. Armed assailants attacked him at his home in the city. Following January’s tragic landslide disaster that killed around 40 people on the main road connecting Quibdó and Medellin, Jackson helped deliver emergency humanitarian relief to survivors and rescue teams.

22 February – Rural community activist José Antonio Lozano Puentes was murdered in Palmira, Valle del Cauca. He was an executive member of the ‘El Barranquero’ Medium and Small Agricultural Producers organisation based in the zone. The 40-year-old was killed inside his home in front of his family.

22 February – The bodies of four men were found in a mass grave in Santuario, Risaralda, which human rights groups registered as the 12th massacre of the year so far. The victims’ families had not heard from them since November. Three of the dead men were named as Carlos Bernal Osorio, César Quiceno Duque and Francisco Uribe Ramírez.

23 February – African-Colombian political activist Victor Mezu was murdered in Santander de Quilichao, Cauca, where he worked for the local government in public space management. He was killed on the road connecting the districts of San Antonio and San José.

23 February – A well-known women’s rights and community activist, Ludivia Galindez Jiménez, was murdered in Florencia, Caquetá, having been displaced to the city from neighbouring Montañita due to threats. Ludivia was president of human rights organisation National Women’s Association for Peace and the Rights of Colombian Women (ASODEMUC). She was also a regional coordinator for the Communist Party, in which she promoted women’s participation, and a member of the Permanent Committee on Human Rights (CPDH).

24 February – Teacher trade unionist Eliécer Guevara Rojas, 55 years old, was murdered inside his home in Valledupar, Cesar. He taught social sciences at La Esperanza Education Institute in the city and was a member of the Association of Educators in Cesar (ADUCESAR), which is affiliated to the FECODE teachers’ trade union federation. Two days later, police arrested a 33-year-old, named as Ricardo José González Torres, over the crime.

26 February – A local coordinator for the indigenous guard , Giovani Collazos Coque, was injured in a gun attack while hosting a family reunion at his home in Puracé, Cauca. Giovani works in the Paletará reserve.

26 February – More than 300 Wiwa indigenous people were forcibly displaced by fighting between rival armed groups in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, northern Colombia. Paramilitary successor and local criminal groups are competing for territorial control in the region.

26 February – Social activist Abelardo Quintero Duque was killed in Puerto Guzmán, Putumayo, where he was president of the JAC Community Council for the district of El Mango. Family members found his body with gunshot wounds near to his home.