EL ESPECTADOR, August 17, 2020

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The plurinational organization warned that 41 murders of former guerrillas in the process of reincorporation have been reported, and that it has listed 97 murders of human rights defenders. Of those it has verified 45 as manslaughter.

The pandemic has been no impediment to the violent actions that have cost the lives of hundreds of Colombians. The recent events demonstrate that. Nearly14 young people were massacred in Cali and in Samaniego (Nariño Province) in less than four days. The violent groups, paramilitaries, ELN, and other organizations continue to commit crimes and murder without any concern for the fact that the country has a united front against Covid-19.

The United Nations Human Rights Office expressed its preoccupation at the acts of violence that are going on in recent days and have, as of today, cost the lives of 14 people younger than 29 in different regions of the country. In the same vein, the international organization expressed its deep concern about the continuing killings of human rights defenders, social leaders, and former FARC-EP combatants in 2020.

The United Nations report is more than worrisome, considering the normal underreporting by these organizations because of limited funding. According to the human rights office, in 2020, 33 massacres have been documented in Colombian territory. They are also following 97 murders of defenders of human rights and, of those, 45 have been verified as manslaughter.

Among these alarming statistics, one that calls out for attention is the 41 murders so far this year of former guerrillas that were in the process of reincorporation into civilian life. According to the United Nations, this figure involves an increase of 10% in those killings from the same period in 2019. With the homicides that have occurred in the first part of 2020, there are now 215 former combatants that have been murdered since the signing of the Peace Agreements in November 2016.

“These violent acts, with serious humanitarian effects, are taking place in areas where illegal armed groups are present, as well as other organizations that generate violence, illegal economies and poverty, and are characterized by a limited presence of the government. Because of that, it’s crucial to advance and strengthen the complete implementation of the Peace Agreement, especially of Chapter 3.4 that calls for guarantees of security that offer mechanisms and instruments for prevention, protection, and security,” states a message from the Office of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights.

These statistics are in contrast to the positive vision furnished by President Iván Duque after the massacre of the 9 young people in Samaniego. The President emphasized that there had been an 11% reduction in homicides so far in 2020. That figure would be the lowest in 40 years if the rate were to be maintained until the end of the year. The President also talked of a reduction in attacks, robberies, kidnapping, and other violent acts. These reductions happened just when the people of the country were confined to their homes to prevent the spread of Covid-19, and the social dynamics have changed.

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