Security forces attack rural community in eastern Colombia

Human rights organisations have condemned an attack allegedly carried out by security forces against a rural community in Arauca, eastern Colombia. According to reports, the agents opened fire on peasant farmers who were conducting sanitary control in the village of Babaica. Fortunately, nobody was hurt as the targets managed to find shelter from the alleged attack on the evening of 29 April.

In a statement, the Joel Sierra Human Rights Foundation said the group of peasant farmers ‘were intimidated by civilian and armed men who were driving in pick-up trucks, who seemed to belong to intelligence organisms of the security forces’.

Many rural populations face high levels of insecurity due to state abandonment and the presence of armed groups in close proximity to their territories. The coronavirus has further exacerbated vulnerable social conditions with many communities struggling to access healthcare, infrastructure and clean water.

Security forces have been implicated in various human rights violations in eastern Colombia, particularly in the regions of Arauca and Catatumbo. In March, soldiers killed 20-year-old peasant farmer Alejandro Carvajal inside his home, following protests over the army continuing to forcibly remove coca plantations in violation of the terms of the peace agreement. In April 2019, soldiers carried out the premeditated murder of FARC former guerrilla Dimar Torres. One soldier was subsequently convicted of the killing, while others remain under investigation.