Colombia: More than 150 human rights defenders murdered in nine months

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Colombia: Over 150 human rights defenders murdered in nine months

Members of a criminal organization in Medellin, Colombia

More than 150 human rights defenders have been assassinated in the first nine months of the year in Colombia, a figure higher than that recorded during the same period in 2021, the office announced on Friday. of the mediator.

Between January and September, this state body which monitors respect for human rights recorded 157 killings of activists, more than the 109 recorded during the three first quarters of the previous year.

Thirty-two indigenous people are among these victims, in a country where 4.4% of the 50 million inhabitants belong to an indigenous people.

Since the conclusion of peace with the FARC guerrillas in 2016, the assassinations of leaders of ethnic communities have been recurrent.

NGOs claim that still active guerrillas, drug traffickers as well as state agents are behind the killings.

“I appeal once again to illegal armed groups to respect the life and integrity of [ethnic minority community] leaders and human rights defenders. They play a fundamental role in guaranteeing the rights of communities and strengthening democracy in the regions.

— Ombudsman Carlos Camargo

In areas where there have been the highest numbers of killings, armed groups are vying for control of crops of dope. Colombia is the world's largest producer of cocaine.

This country is one of the most dangerous for militants, according to NGOs such as Global Witness which, in its report on 2021, ranks it in second place for assassinations conservationists (33).

The new Colombian president, Gustavo Petro, wants to obtain through negotiations the disarmament of the rebels still in activity and that the drug traffickers be brought to justice.

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