Colombia human rights update June 2024

Ongoing violence in several regions of Colombia continued impacting communities throughout June, particularly rural zones with large indigenous, African-Colombian and peasant populations. Although the government has attempted to enter into dialogue with armed groups in order to reduce conflict, a number of difficulties have left regions unstable and local communities vulnerable to human rights abuses, including the killings of social activists.

Particularly concerning in June was a sharp rise in the number of former FARC guerrillas killed. While ten had been murdered in January-May 2024, an average of two per month, June saw five such murders. Additionally, trade unionists, indigenous leaders, women’s rights activists and young community activists were also targeted.

Here is JFC’s monthly human rights update for June 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. 

2 June – Armed assailants killed three people inside a home in Cartago, Valle del Cauca. The victims were named as Darwin Andrés Cardona, who was only 18 years old, Álvaro Gómez Murcia and Danilson Jaramillo Betancur. A fourth person was injured. The attack was carried out in a district under dispute by rival drugs factions. According to INDEPAZ, it was the 26th massacre of 2024.

3 June – The Chocó Inter-Ethnic Solidarity Forum (FISCH), a human rights group based in Quibdó, the capital of Chocó department, faced an attempted break-in at its offices in the city. Assailants tried to enter the premises and steal computers containing important information about victims and human rights defenders. FISCH also warned that its members had recently suffered acts of intimidation by armed groups in the vicinity. Chocó, which has a majority African-Colombian and indigenous population, has been historically impacted by conflict and state neglect, with several armed groups competing to control the region. FISCH called on authorities to carry out a thorough investigation and guarantee security for its members.

4 June – A priest named as Ramón Arturo Montejo Peinado was killed in Ocaña, Norte de Santander. He was active in human rights and peacebuilding, and at the time of his death was participating in verification of ceasefires under the Total Peace initiative. He was stabbed to death by two assailants who fled the scene.

4 June – Community activist Marian Rodríguez Camelo was killed in Mapiripán, Meta, where she was well-known for her human rights work, which included the provision of support for women experiencing domestic violence. She was also the founder of women’s rights organisation the Ourselves for Ourselves Autonomous Space for Women in the department of Arauca, which has been badly hit by conflict in recent years owing to the presence of rival armed groups.

5 June – A prominent community leader, Javier Condía, was murdered in Yopal, Casanare. He was a delegate to the ASOJUNTAS federation of community councils known as JACs. Armed assailants attacked him inside the commercial establishment he owned in the zone of La Guamalera. Despite being taken to hospital, Javier died of his injuries. He is the 75th social activist murdered in 2024.

5 June – Three people were killed in Belén de los Andaquíes, Caquetá, the 27th massacre of 2024. Their bodies were discovered alongside the main road in the village of El Porvenir. One of the victims was identified as Henry Piñeros Jagua. Rival armed groups are competing for control of the region.

6 June – The National Indigenous Organisation of Colombia (ONIC), the country’s largest such entity, said that police had killed an indigenous man, Luis Humberto Naranjo, in Puerto Carreño, Vichada. Officers reportedly shot him three times in front of his family, including children. The ONIC called on the Attorney General to launch an urgent investigation and for the Ministry of Defence to hold the officers responsible to account. It also urged international organisations such as the UN and the OAS to intervene where necessary to safeguard human rights in Colombia.

7 June – Social activist and educator Hernán Henríquez Mora was murdered in Argelia, Cauca, where he taught at the town’s Agricultural Institute. He was attacked as he left an educational activity in the district of Sinaí.

8 June – Social leader Mauricio Collazos was killed in Valparaíso, Caquetá, where he was legal representative for the JAC community council in the district of Caserio 18. Armed assailants attacked Mauricio during a JAC meeting. JAC members are particularly targeted by violence over their community roles.

9 June – Rural activist José Elver Giraldo Villada was murdered in Tuluá, Valle del Cauca, where he belonged to the Association of Peasant Workers (ASTRACAVA). He was also a local representative of the Comunes political party that was formed by former FARC guerrillas under the terms of the 2016 peace agreement.

10 June – One day after the murder of Comunes member José Elver Giraldo Villada in Valle del Cauca, former FARC guerrilla and Comunes member Luis Fernando Rivera Noscué was also killed in the department. Armed assailants attacked him inside a public establishment in the town of Florida. Luis Fernando was taken to hospital but died soon afterwards. He is the 11th former FARC member murdered in 2024.

10 June – Nasa indigenous leader Deyby Yair Bueno Villano was killed in Caloto, Cauca. The 23-year-old was attacked inside a public establishment. Indigenous communities in the north Cauca region face extremely high levels of violence, with killings and other attacks carried out on a regular basis. The UN has repeatedly warned of the situation there.

11 June – The 80th murder of a social activist in 2024 was committed in Ituango, Antioquia, when armed assailants killed Alcides Sucerquia, former president of the JAC community council for Guacharquero district. He had previously stood for local election for the Party of the U. Alcides was killed alongside another person and their bodies left close to the main road out of Ituango.

13 June – Rural activist and JAC community council member William Ramírez was murdered in Silvia, Cauca.

14 June – Just four days after former FARC member Luis Fernando Rivera Noscué was killed in Florida, Valle del Cauca, another three men died in the town in what was Colombia’s 28th massacre of 2024. They were attacked while inside a 4×4 utility vehicle.

14 June – The day’s second massacre claimed three lives in Miranda, Cauca. Two of the victims, named as Jhonny Gómez González and Jhon Álvaro Sánchez, were reportedly sleeping rough. The third unnamed victim had recently arrived in the town.

17 June – Former FARC member Yilbert Montaño Montaño was murdered in El Carmen, Norte de Santander. He was based at one of the official reincorporation spaces where former guerrillas transition to civilian society, El Negro Eliécer Gaitán de Caño, created in the 2016 peace agreement. Yilbert was attacked in the evening by armed assailants on a motorbike.

18 June – Following a 17 May attack in Miranda, Cauca, in which an explosive device killed a 12-year-old child and a motorcycle driver, the child’s mother, Mercedes Impujan, also died of injuries sustained in the incident.  

19 June – Video footage posted to social media showed fighting between an armed group and security forces in Morales, Cauca. Human right defenders warned that local residents were at severe risk.

19 June – Indigenous human rights activist Armando Wouriyu, who coordinated indigenous participation in the 2016 peace agreement, reported that his security vehicle had come under attack in Curumaní, Cesar.

21 June – The month’s third killing of a former FARC member in the peace process was committed in Jambaló, Cauca. Jhon Edinson Ipia had been based at the Carlos Perdomo transitional zone in the zone of Caldono. The day before his murder, Jhon Edinson had taken part in a meeting to advance local peacebuilding initiatives. Another local community member was also killed in the attack.

21 June – Teacher trade unionist Hader Enrique Escobar was killed in Maicao, La Guajira, where he was principal of the No. 8 Indigenous Educational Institute. Hader belonged to the Education Workers Association of La Guajira (ASODEGUA), which is affiliated to the FECODE teacher federation, Colombia’s largest single-sector trade union organisation. He was attacked while returning home from work. Hader is at least the fourth FECODE-affiliated teacher trade unionist killed since March.

24 June – Members of an armed group murdered an indigenous man, Florentino Mesa Noscué, after abducting him as he travelled with his wife and child in Miranda, Cauca. The attack was carried out in the La Cilia-La Calera reservation, with the assailants informing Florentino’s family members that they were going to kill him. Soon afterwards, local community members organised a search party and discovered Florentino’s body with gunshot wounds. Florentino was 32 years old and the brother of indigenous traditional leader Rogelia Mesa Noscué. In a statement, the Association of Indigenous Councils of North Cauca (ACIN) said that ‘as indigenous communities, we continue suffering the horrors of war and a systematic extermination of our communities’. It is the latest act of violence in Miranda, following the killing of three people on 14 June and the death on 18 June of Mercedes Impujan after being injured in an explosion one month earlier.

24 June – Community leader and JAC council member Alba Rocío Riaño Nossa succumbed to her injuries eight days after being attacked in Ciudad Bolivar, an outlying district of Bogota. Multiple armed groups are present in Ciudad Bolivar. Alba is the 83rd social activist killed in 2024.

25 June – Another indigenous social activist was killed in Cauca, continuing the appalling wave of violence faced by communities there. Armed assailants attacked Luis Eduardo Vivas in the zone of Paéz, where he practiced traditional forms of medicine in the Mosoco reservation.

25 June – Another former FARC member in the peace process, Esteban Guzmán Castro, was killed in Buenos Aires, Cauca, the fourth murder of a former guerrilla this month and the 14th in 2024. He had been abducted by an armed group the previous day.

25 June – A particularly violent attack killed seven people at a farm in Rionegro, Antioquia. The victims were reportedly agricultural workers who had travelled there from other regions to find employment.

26 June – Four men were found dead with gunshot wounds in Villa del Rosario, Norte de Santander, close to Colombia’s border with Venezuela. The attack was carried out close to an illegal border crossing.

27 June – Women’s rights activist Yoli María Toloza was killed in Puerto Wilches, Santander, where she was an organiser in the Popular Feminine Organisation (OFP). She was attacked inside her home opposite the OFP offices.

27 June – Social activist and independent journalist Jorge Méndez Pardo was murdered in Tibú, Norte de Santander. He ran news website La Gabarra con una Imagen Diferente and was well-known for his community focus.

27 June – The wave of violence impacting north Cauca continued with the murder of indigenous activist and educator Eyber Danilo Poto, who resided at the San Francisco reservation in the zone. He was involved in developing educational initiatives for local communities. Eyber was stepson of the Vice-Minister for Ethnic Peoples, Nelson Lemus, who is a longstanding community leader in Cauca. Eyber was killed after being abducted on 22 June.

29 June – Killings of former FARC members rose to five this month after David José González Tovar was murdered in a rural zone of Morroa, Sucre. David José was based at the transition zone Simón Trinidad at Tierra Grata, one of the 24 special sites created in the 2016 peace agreement. Justice for Colombia delegations have twice visited Tierra Grata, first in May 2019 and then again in April 2023, while British and Irish trade unions have provided support for community initiatives there. Paramilitary-successor groups have a notable presence in Cesar and other parts of northern Colombia.

30 June – Community activist and youth worker Jeisson Buenaños Pinilla was killed in Barrancabermeja, Santander, where he coordinated sports activities for young people. Also killed in the attack was another man, Alex Velaides. Although Jeisson was taken to hospital, he died of his injuries. He is the 88th social activist killed in 2024.