Colombia human rights update July 2022

Communities across many parts of Colombia remain deeply impacted by violence, as the outgoing government of Iván Duque has failed to constructively address basic security needs in volatile regions. By the end of July, according to the INDEPAZ human rights organisation, 109 social activists and 29 former FARC guerrillas had been murdered since the start of the year. It comes as the United Nations Human Rights

Here is JFC’s summary of human rights abuses in July 2022.

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

3 July – Colombia’s 49th massacre of 2022 was carried out at around midday in the Inda Salata indigenous reservation in Tumaco, department of Nariño. Three Awá activists were killed, named as reservation governor Juan Orlando Moreano, Carlos Moreano and John Faber Nastacuas. They were attacked by members of an armed group as they returned to their homes from a community meeting on the ongoing human rights situation. A number of other people were injured in the attack. The victims all belonged to the UNIPA indigenous organisation based in the region. UNIPA said it was launching a new ‘Minga’ mobilisation to protest the latest killings of indigenous activists in Nariño.

4 July – A well-known former FARC guerrilla, Ronald Rojas, was killed in Palermo, Huila, where he was participating in the reincorporation process, which involved coordinating cultural activities in support of peace. Ronald was previously a member of the CSIVI committee which oversees implementation of the peace agreement. He was shot inside his home in front of his family, apparently by a sniper, and taken to hospital, where he died soon afterwards. INDEPAZ said he was the 321st former guerrilla killed since entering the peace process.

4 July – Social activist and teacher Camilo Puni Bomba was murdered in Santander de Quilichao, Cauca, which continues to see very high levels of violence, particularly towards indigenous communities. He lived in the Munchique los Tigres reservation and had worked for ten years at the Agricultural College La Aurora. At around 11am, armed assailants forced Camilo and other people out of a public establishment where they were gathered, before killing him.

4 July – The 51st massacre of the year claimed the lives of three men in the northern city of Barranquilla. While driving through the city, Gregorio Lemus Avila, Samuel David Méndez and Jesús Chamie Cuentas were intercepted by armed men who shot them dead.

5 July – The ACIN indigenous organisation based in Cauca warned of fighting between the army and an armed group in the zone of Las Delicias, where some fighters were entering people’s homes and exposing them to serious harm as they attempted to shelter from the shooting. In a statement, ACIN demanded an immediate end to hostilities.

5 July – Armed assailants attacked the governor of the indigenous council at the University del Valle in Cali. At around 11.40pm, two men assaulted Luis Alberto Ussa as he left a meeting in the city, reportedly threatening him with a pistol over his support for president-elect Gustavo Petro. Luis is enrolled on two academic programmes at the University del Valle. Two trade unionists employed at the university were murdered in three days in May.

6 July – Armed paramilitaries reportedly used threats and gunfire to intimidate Awá community members as they commemorated the three activists, Juan Orlando Moreano, Carlos Moreano and John Faber Nastacuas, who had been murdered three days earlier.

6 July – Three men were killed at around 9am as they travelled in La Montañita, Caquetá. One of them was named as former FARC combatant Maicol Andrés Lozano Rojas, who was based in the reincorporation process at the nearby Hector Ramírez transitional zone. A JFC delegation visited the transitional zone just five weeks prior to the attack.

8 July – Another former FARC guerrilla, Juan Andrés Córdoba Mosquera, was killed in Urrao, Antioquia. According to INDEPAZ, he is the 24th former guerrilla killed in 2022 and the 323rd since the signing of the peace agreement.

8 July – Indigenous organisations based in Chocó warned there was a serious risk of a major forced displacement of local communities due to the presence of armed groups in the region. In a statement, the FEDEOREWA association of indigenous councils warned that, since the beginning of June, communities in the Jurubida Chori protected zone were threatened by the presence of rival armed groups. It also said that the situation was too dangerous for people to buy food or for children to attend classes, which was worsening the humanitarian crisis in the zone.  

10 July – The Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC) said that in the early hours unknown assailants attacked the home of indigenous congress member Hermes Pete Vivas, who was unhurt.

10 July – At least 10,000 people were confined to their homes, leaving them unable to access food and essential services, due to fighting between armed groups in Ituango, Antioquia.

10 July – Three people were killed in a public establishment in Santander de Quilichao, Cauca, the 53rd massacre of the year. They were named as José Guerrero, Jhonatan Lobo and Yeison Eduardo Salazar. The National Ombudsman had previously issued an alert over the presence of armed groups in Santander de Quilichao, which has seen high levels of violence since the peace agreement.

12 July – The body of social activist Jaime Losada was found in Puerto Guzmán, Putumayo, where he was a member of the community council in the district of Costa Nueva. He had been reported missing four days earlier.

12 July – Former FARC guerrilla Noel Humberto Castro Colorado was murdered in Florencia, Caquetá, the 324th such killing since the peace agreement was signed. Armed assailants on a motorcycle attacked him at around 9.45pm. Noel had been based at the Hector Ramírez reincorporation zone in nearby Agua Bonita, which had been visited by a JFC delegation just six weeks earlier. He was murdered just six days after Maicol Andrés Lozano Rojas, another resident of the reincorporation zone, was killed.

13 July – The ADE trade union for education workers in Bogota denounced threats and harassment against one of its members, Sandra Salazar Frias. According to the union, alleged paramilitary group the Black Eagles had threatened teachers based in the Usme district of the capital. Sandra had been coordinating education workshops in the area.

16 July – Indigenous activist Jorge Eliecer Mejía was killed in Santander de Quilichao, the latest act of violence in what is an extremely violent area. The 25-year-old was an indigenous guard for the community of La Concepción. He was attacked in a public establishment.

17 July – Former FARC combatant Robin Muñoz Taborda was murdered in Campamento, Antioquia, near to the reincorporation zone Jhon Bautista Peña where he was participating in the reincorporation process.

17 July – Social activist José Edilson Vargas Monroy was killed in Puerto Caicedo, Putumayo, where he was community council secretary in the district of Villanueva. Armed assailants reportedly attacked him at his home. Several armed groups are active in the region.

19 July – Social organisation Nación Wayuu highlighted the case of eight indigenous Wayuu families displaced from their homes in Uribia, La Guajira, due to the activities of energy company Enel Green Power.

19 July – Women’s rights activist María Piedad Aguirre was murdered in Tumaco, Nariño. She was a member of the CCM women’s association, as well as a traditional authority for African-Colombian communities in the region. She was attacked inside her home.

20 July – Political activist Johan Vargas Sánchez survived an assassination attempt in the town of El Zulia, Norte de Santander.

22 July – Social media footage showed serious disturbances between soldiers and small-scale miners in the Soto Norte zone of Santander. Soldiers reportedly opened fire and killed one of the miners, Sergio Lizcano. A local organisation representing small-scale miners in the region, ASOMIPROSOTO, condemned the army attack on workers who it said were continuing 400 years of independent mining there. It also said that miners in Santander have faced ‘criminalisation, legal processes, persecution and stigmatisation from the Iván Duque government.’

24 July – Environmental activist Luis Carlos Quiceno Londoño was murdered in Norcasia, Caldas, where he led a tourism project called Mamalú. He was attacked while piloting his small boat to collect tourists on the La Miel River. Colombia is by far the world’s most violent country for environmental activists.

24 July – Human rights defender Olimpo Castillo Sastoque was killed in San Martín, Meta. He belonged to the San Martín Victims’ Association (ASDESAN). The 53-year-old was attacked by armed assailants on a motorbike.

25 July – Three people were killed in the 54th massacre of 2022, when armed assailants attacked them in a public establishment in Puerto Rico, Caquetá. The victims included Orley Tombe Conda, a former FARC combatant, and Aurelio Castro Ortiz, who was the brother of Puerto Rico’s former mayor. The third victim was named as Durley López Osorio, while two women were injured in the attack.

25 July – Three young people were found dead in Sincelejo, Sucre, in alarming circumstances. Reports said that they were among a group attacked by police after an officer was killed in the area. Police wounded one of the victims, then detained him and two others. Their bodies were found a short while later.

28 July – Former FARC guerrilla Bladimir Herrera Avella and a companion were killed in Fortul, Arauca. Around two weeks earlier, he had been abducted by armed assailants before being released.

29 July – The bodies of three teenagers were found in an abandoned sector of La Jagüa de Ibirico, César. They were identified as Luis David Carbonó Daza, Victor Manuel Álvarez Millar, who were both 17, and 18-year-old Cristian Camilo Cabornó Paternina. It is the 55th massacre of 2022, according to INDEPAZ.

31 July – Five people were killed in yet another massacre, carried out in La Unión, Valle del Cauca. Armed assailants reportedly opened fire at a group of people as they sat outside their homes in the Ciudadela Grajales neighbourhood. At least three others were injured.

31 July – Awá indigenous leader Veronica Pai, who was an activist in the Piguambi Palangala reservation, was killed in Llorente, Nariño. She was six months pregnant.

31 July – Four Awá indigenous people were killed and various others injured when armed assailants attacked a public establishment in Barbacoas, Nariño. Several armed groups are active in the region.

31 July – Former FARC guerrilla Idelber Gómez Solano was killed in Puerto Caicedo, Putumayo. He was attacked in a bar where he was socialising. Another two people were injured. INDEPAZ said he was the 29th former guerrilla killed in 2022 and the 335th since the signing of the peace agreement.