United Nations criticises violence against social leaders and congressional attacks on JEP

The United Nations Office of the High Commission based in Colombia has rejected claims by high-ranking Colombian officials that high levels of violence carried out against Colombian social leaders and political activists is the result of personal feuds, crimes of passion and petty crime.

On Wednesday 27 December, the UN High Commission released a statement expressing its concern at the spike in violence since the peace agreement was signed in November 2016.

‘The Office observes with deep concern the persistence of cases of murder against human rights defenders in national territory’, said the statement.

The statement also criticised Colombian congress members who in November removed magistrates selected to oversee the transitional justice court established in the peace agreement, known as the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP under its Spanish anocrym).

According to the Office of the High Commission, 105 social leaders and human rights defenders were murdered in 2017. Most of these occurred in regions where the state has a limited presence and local populations cannot depend on state security forces.

‘The Office has reiterated that the prevention of attacks and aggression against human rights defenders implies investigation, prosecution and sanction of those responsible’, the UN said in its statement.