The Colombian state must ‘redouble its efforts’ to fully implement the peace process to increase security for social activists, human rights defenders and trade unionists in the country following hundreds of murders since the peace agreement was signed in November 2016, according to recommendations by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR). The IACHR is an autonomous judicial body founded in 1979 to protect and promote human rights cross the Americas.
In its latest report on human rights in Colombia, the IACHR documented several alarming trends impacting social activists across the country. While 2017 saw Colombia’s lowest overall murder rate in 30 years, targeted attacks on social activists increased by 52 per cent during 2017-2019. As other investigations have also found, the IACHR said that human rights violations are concentrated in regions historically impacted by conflict. While the peace agreement addresses the needs of these regions through territorial development programmes, few of these have advanced to any substantial degree.
‘Beyond numerical analysis, violence against human rights defenders in Colombia persists and, therefore, it is necessary to address structural causes and origins that allow this violence to continue,’ said the IACHR’s Colombia rapporteur, Antonia Urrejola.
Presenting its recommendations, the IACHR called on the Colombian state to ‘redouble its efforts in the implementation of the Peace Agreement; promote a culture of legitimation and protection of social leaders which publicly recognises their fundamental role in the construction of democracy in Colombia and, also, convokes social organisations to create a comprehensive public policy of prevention and protection towards human rights defenders and social leaders, including differential focuses on gender, ethnicities and the LGBT population.’
The report used figures from the Colombian Ombudsman’s Office which document 442 murders since the peace agreement was signed. National human rights organisations have put the figure significantly higher.