Latest victim is at least 27th teacher murdered since start of 2018

A Colombian school teacher was murdered in the Bajo Baudó region of western Colombia on Saturday 4 July. Rubilio Papelito taught at a school in the community of Santa María Birrinchao. He was killed by unidentified attackers at his home.

Several armed groups are active in Bajo Baudó in the department of Chocó and the region continues to see violence towards indigenous and African-Colombian communities. The United Nations and other observers have repeatedly warned about the volatile situation in Chocó and the high levels of danger for social activists and communities.

Rubilio’s murder comes less than a month after another teacher, Jorge Ortíz Hernández, was killed in Bolívar. In response to the crime, the NASUWT teachers union called on the Colombian government ‘to ensure that all teachers can fulfil their social roles free from the threat of violence’.

According to FECODE, the main teachers trade union in Colombia, at least 27 teachers have been murdered in Colombia since the start of 2018. In February this year, following a spate of aggression towards teachers, British and Irish trade unions issued a joint statement condemning the violence: ‘Universal education is a basic human right which benefits entire societies: attacks on teachers are therefore an attack on everybody,’ the statement said.