EL HERALDO, December 9, 2021
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
Carlos Camargo noted that 111 homicides were of men and 19 of women.
The Public Defender’s Office reported in a press release this Thursday that, in the first 11 months of this year, a total of 130 murders of social leaders and human rights defenders was registered in the country.
This figure, he adds, is “ less than the number for all of 2020 (182 cases).”
These statistics were revealed by the Public Defender, Carlos Camargo, as part of International Human Rights Defenders Day. He reported that 111 homicides were of men and 19 were of women. He also affirmed that, by social sector, the largest number of homicides was of village leaders (31), indigenous people (30), community-based leaders (16), campesinos (14), and labor leaders (7).
“Our Public Defender analysis shows that 75% of the homicides of social leaders took place in 8 departments. Antioquia leads the list with 22 cases, and Cauca follows with 21, Valle del Cauca with 16, and Chocó with 9, Norte de Santander has 8, Nariño 7, Caquetá 5, and Meta has 5,” stated Camargo.
“ Even though it’s true that the number of murders of social leaders has diminished somewhat, we are profoundly sorry about each and every one of the cases, because of the impact that has on the communities. We repudiate the actions that have taken place, principally by the criminal behavior of the illegal armed groups. As a government, we cannot avoid making every effort in the struggle against criminality; much less can we fail to guarantee that the leaders can continue advancing their important work in supporting the social rule of law,” he concluded.
The majority of the leaders that were murdered this year were community leaders, working on community action boards, and also indigenous leaders.
The Public Defender’s Office is one of the few official agencies in this country that collect data on this phenomenon, which is the most lethal for people all over the world that defend matters such protection of the environment.
The UN speaks
For its part, the UN office of human rights, assuming that its data do not reflect the entirety of the scene, reported that, up to October 31, 67 murders had been verified and 30 murders were in the verification process, of the 180 reported by the agency.
Other organizations, such as Indepaz, which collects information on grassroots groups all over the country, reports the murders of 162 leaders and human rights defenders so far in 2021, and 1,276 since the signing of the Peace Agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC in November of 2016.
The most recent murder reported by the Institute for the Study of the Development of Peace (Indepaz) took place only two days ago, in the Caribbean city of Santa Marta. The victim was Cristina Isabel Cantillo, an LGBTIQ+ activist who was attacked last Monday by a hit man when she was on the terrace of her house.