FARC report shows high levels of violence against former guerrillas

The FARC has released figures showing the high rates of violence against former guerrillas and their family members. Between the signing of the peace agreement in November 2016 and 20 June 2019, 135 FARC members in the reincorporation process and 33 of their relatives were murdered in Colombia. Another 11 former guerrillas were disappeared.

The findings show that between 2017 and 2018, the number of FARC members murdered virtually doubled from 33 to 65. Up to 20 June, another 32 have been killed in 2019.

The new findings attribute the crimes to a variety of actors: state security forces, paramilitary groups, the ELN guerrilla organisation, so-called ‘dissident’ groups and unidentified armed groups.

Most killings have occurred in regions affected by the presence of armed groups and earmarked for rural development in the peace agreement. The most dangerous regions for FARC members are Cauca (26 killings), Nariño (23), Antioquia (17), Caquetá (13) and Norte de Santander (10). While Nariño was by some distance the worst region for violence against the FARC in the first year after the peace agreement was signed, 2018 saw a huge rise in violence in Cauca, which has also been Colombia’s most violent region in terms of attacks on social activists, including community leaders, trade unionists and people working to implement the peace agreement.

The report also highlights a number of recent cases, such as the extrajudicial killing of Dimar Torres in Catatumbo in April and the murders of Daniel Esterilla and Anderson Perez Osorio on 17 June. Compared to most killings, these cases garnered reasonably high press coverage. Many cases have gone largely unreported in the national media.

Murders of FARC members’ relatives have dropped since their peak in 2017, when 16 people were killed, compared with nice the following year. So far in 2019, six people have been killed, including seven-month old baby Samuel David. He was killed in an attack on his parents, both FARC members, in La Guajira, northern Colombia in April.

The United Nations has repeatedly expressed concern over the killing of former guerrillas. Last week, secretary general Anotonio Guterres highlighted the murder of FARC members and social activists as a threat to the peace process.

Furthermore, in a letter dated 4 June, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, Agnes Callamard, and five other UN officials said ‘[w]e urge the Colombian Government to stop inciting violence against the demobilised FARC-EP and to comply with the guarantees given to them during the negotiations in Havana, especially respect for the right to life’.

Colombia has been impacted by a human rights crisis since the peace agreement was signed. In addition to the murders of FARC members, between 500 and 600 social activists have also been killed.