Colombia marked in 2022 the “unfortunate record” of homicides of social leaders and human rights defenders with a total of 215 murders, the Ombudsman’s Office reported on Monday.
Half of these crimes occurred in five departments: Narino (35), Cauca (26), antioch Y putumayo (22) and Cauca’s Valley (12), coinciding with the areas of the country where there is more presence of illegal armed groups.
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The type of leadership that was most affected was that of community leaders, with 63 assassinated.
They are followed by indigenous leaders (47), community leaders (36), peasant or agrarian leaders (18), Afro-descendants (12), unions (8), human rights activists (7), cultural or sports leaders (5), population leaders with diverse sexual orientation and gender identity (4) and public servants (3).
“It’s not just about numbers, you have to think of 215 families hard hit and the affected communities left without the people who fight for their rights”, lamented the Ombudsman, Carlos Camargo.
In addition, it supposesa serious impact on the basis of democracy because these are leaders who take up the concerns of the people, are their spokespersons and those who work for a country where human rights are respected”.
Between 2016, when the Ombudsman launched the Early Warning System (SAT), and 2022, 1,113 social leaders were assassinated in the country.
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In 2016, 133 were killed, in 2017 the figure reached 126, in 2018 the record was 178, in 2019 there were 134, by 2020 it rose to 182 and in 2021 it reached 145 fatalities.
“It would be expected that the dialogues with the ELN (guerrilla) and the bilateral ceasefire (of fire) with other illegal armed groups would also mean a reduction in actions against social leaders and human rights defenders throughout the national territory and put an end to this situation against this population”, concluded Camargo.
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