Figures of murders of human rights defenders increased: UN – Peace and Human Rights – Justice

(Enter the multimedia report: Assassination of environmental leaders, a green struggle that cost them their lives).

Most of the victims, 70, were men, and among them six were Afro-descendant and six, indigenous. The murder of eight women was also verified, of which five belonged to indigenous communities.

Of the total number of verified deaths, the majority occurred in the departments of Valle from Cauca (31), Cauca (11), Antioquia (6), Chocó (5), Cundinamarca (5) and Norte de Santander (4). Regarding cities, the one that presented the most serious situation was Cali, with 22 cases, followed by Tuluá, also in Valle, with 4; Bogotá, with 3, and Algeria (Cauca), with the same number of victims.

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In Valle, 31 of the 78 murders of 2021 were registered.


TIME infographic. With information from UN

While in 2018 the agency registered 35 cases, in 2019 they rose to 108.

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That number fell 39 percent by 2020, when 66 murders were verified (and another 63 remained in the process of verification).

Thus, the 78 homicides in 2021 represent an 18 percent increase in crimes against defenders compared to the figure for 2020. Now, if the data is compared with that of 2019, a year without a pandemic, one could speak of a 27 percent decrease, according to United Nations data.

Although the figure of 78 murders delivered by the UN raises the alarm, organizations such as Indepaz warn that the situation could be worse. According to their records, at least 168 human rights defenders lost their lives in the past year.

(Also read: Colombia registered 92 massacres during 2021, says Indepaz)

Even the data from the Ombudsman’s Office show a more negative balance than that of the UN. The entity revealed that in the 333 days between January 1 and November 30, 2021, 130 social leaders and human rights defenders were assassinated in the country. This means that every 2.6 days the homicide of one of these people occurred, according to the entity’s records.

It is very important that State institutions are coordinated to effectively investigate and prosecute all cases of assassinations, threats and attacks against human rights defenders.

(Read on: Since 2016, 883 social leaders have been assassinated; in 2021 there are 130: Defensoría)

Regarding the 39 complaints in the verification process, eight were registered in Cauca, six in Nariño, five in Antioquia, four in Putumayo, four in Bolívar, three in Valle, two in Norte de Santander and one in each of the following departments: Magdalena, Córdoba, Caldas and Caquetá.

The situation of violence against this population has become one of the main concerns of the international community after the signing of the peace agreement with the former FARC guerrilla in 2016.

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“It is very important that State institutions are coordinated to effectively investigate and judge all cases of murders, threats and attacks against defenders, leaders and social leaders ”, said last year the representative in Colombia of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Juliette de Rivero.

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