Two more massacres take this year’s total so far to 51

Two more massacres were committed in a 24-hour period as the total number surpassed 50 so far in 2020. With massacres defined as acts in which at least three people are murdered, the latest cases continue the wave of violence that made August one of the most violent months in Colombia since the peace agreement was signed in November 2016.

In the first incident on 3 September, four unidentified men were found dead in the Buaseco zone of Nariño, southern Colombia, one of the most unstable parts of Colombia due to the presence of several armed groups, including paramilitaries, as well as the region’s strategic importance for drugs trafficking and other illegal activities. The attack occurred in an isolated zone which meant the bodies were not discovered until the following day.

Less than 24 hours after the Nariño massacre, the bodies of three men were found with their hands tied and gunshots to the head alongside a road connecting Cajibío and El Tambo in the southwestern region of Cauca. The vicitms were named as Jesús Andrés Solarte, Rubén Darío Ruiz Gaviria and Jefferson Fernández, two of whom were aged between 30 and 32. According to Colombian human rights organisation INDEPAZ, the latest incidents bring the total number of massacres committed in Colombia since the start of this year to 51.

While the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia has repeatedly called on the Colombian government to fully implement the peace process in order to improve the dire security situation, Iván Duque’s administration has faced strong criticism over its handling of the human rights crisis. The National Commission on Security Guarantees, for instance, which was created in the peace agreement to dismantle paramilitary and armed groups, has met only a handful of times, rather than on the regular basis stipulated in the agreement. Increased militarisation, meanwhile, has failed to stabilise troubled regions and often corresponded with a rise in reported human rights violations against civilians.