Colombian NGO reports high levels of paramilitary violence in Colombia

Justice For Colombia News | on: Friday, 6 October 2017

Colombian NGO Somos Defensores (We are Defenders) recently published a report which found that, on average, two social leaders or human rights activists are threatened or assaulted every day in Colombia, while one is killed every three days. It attributes the violence to armed paramilitary groups which have targeted political activists for many decades in Colombia and have now also expanded into areas previously occupied by the FARC. The report also detailed many people murdered who were in the process of reclaiming land from which they had been previously displaced.

The report found that 51 social leaders were murdered in Colombia between January and June of this year. 28 victims were rural community leaders. The departments of Cauca and Valle del Cauca are the most dangerous regions for social leaders. Other affected regions include Antioquia, Cesar, Nariño, Choco, Cordoba and Meta.

Seven of the killings occurred after victims had received threats, with the majority committed by unknown armed men. In at least seven cases, the victim was abducted and later found dead, with six of these displaying signs of torture. Most murders or abductions occurred early in the morning or late at night, when victims were at home and in conditions of reduced security.

Additionally, the report refuted official claims that the facts in half of these cases have been established or resolved. This, it claimed, was reflected in the lack of official information regarding perpetrators' identities .

While the report attributes the violence to paramilitary groups, it also stated that threatening pamphlets have been traced to the police. Telephone calls, text messages and direct confrontation also constitute common forms of threatening people, the report said.

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