Four land claimants and lawyer killed in Colombia’s 69th massacre of 2020

Five people were killed in an attack in Sucre, northern Colombia, on Sunday 25 October as the country continues to witness an alarming rise in massacres. The latest crime is the 69th massacre committed in Colombia in 2020, more than double the total number of documented cases during the whole of last year.

The victims were four land rights claimants and their lawyer. According to reports, paramilitaries killed the five people during a meeting in the zone of San Marcos. The attack came just days after the Movement for Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE) warned of threats to land rights activists in Sucre after its regional representative, Hernando Benítez, survived an attack there.

Colombia’s surge in massacres has occurred alongside a rise in targeted killings of social activists and former guerrillas. The INDEPAZ human rights organisation has documented 237 social activists and 51 FARC former guerrillas killed in 2020 (up to 21 October).

In its latest report on the peace process, the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia warned of the chronic violence, including the rise in massacres, threatening the peace process. ‘Recent massacres in various departments have served as a painful reminder of how innocent civilians, including young people, are falling victim to the actions of these groups,’ said the head of the UN Mission, Carlos Ruiz Massieu.