The Colombian NGO Somos Defensores (We are Defenders) has released a new quarterly report in which it says 46 social leaders were killed in the first three months of 2018. The figure represents a 130 per cent increase on the number murdered in the same period during 2017, according to the organisation.
The report says that no arrests have been made in 35 of the cases, fuelling the impunity that surrounds much political violence in Colombia. At least four of the murders were committed by state security forces.
In addition, threats and intimidation targeting social leaders more than doubled between the respective periods in 2017 and 2018. Of the 46 listed murder victims in the report, 40 were men and six were women.
The report says that in 55 per cent of cases, the perpetrators are unknown, whereas paramilitaries were responsible for 36 per cent of aggressions towards social leaders. This is despite the Colombian government’s ongoing denial that paramilitaries are active in the country.
The most violent regions of Colombia are Cauca, Antioquia and Norte de Santander, with political murders occurring in 15 of Colombia’s 33 departments.
You can download the report (in Spanish) here.