CoDev in Solidarity with Colombian Rights Defenders and Social Leaders

Vancouver, Canada, July 26, 2019. CoDevelopment Canada (CoDev) stands in solidarity with our Colombian partners and the many human rights and social organizations mobilizing today to demand an end to the systematic killing of social leaders and human right defenders and the undermining of the 2016 peace accords.

The number of social leaders assassinated has increased every year since the Peace Accords between the Colombian government and the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC). Between January 2016 and May 2019, 681 community leaders and human rights defenders have been assassinated , as well as 135 former guerrillas. Hundreds more are under threat or are politically persecuted.

The majority of these crimes take place in territories where indigenous and afro-Colombian communities resist state-supported displacement for mining and oil projects and the expansion of agro-industries, as well as the illegal drug trade. Those killed played important roles defending their communities’ territorial rights, denouncing government corruption, or opposing illegal armed groups and illegal economies. They include community leaders involved in land restitution processes, teachers, trade unionists, representatives of victims and survivors’ groups, and water and forest defenders.

The Final Peace Accords were signed in November 2016, but President Ivan Duque’s administration has resisted their full implementation, attempting to dismantle the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, a transitional system to guarantee justice for the victims of mass atrocities and other human rights violations. Under Duque, Colombia has become even more militarized, with the increased use of soldiers to surveil social leaders and communities, and a suspension of the peace process between the government and the National Liberation Army (ELN, Colombia’s other guerrilla movement).

CoDev, joins human rights and social movements in Colombia and around the world to call on Colombian authorities to:

  • Protect the life and integrity of social leaders and human rights defenders, and investigate and bring to justice those responsible for their killings.
  • Respect and fully implement the 2016 Peace Accords, including the Special Jurisdiction for Peace to guarantee the right to Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Non-repetition.

From Canada, we send our support and our commitment to continue to accompany our Colombian partners in their struggle to defend the human, social and environmental rights of their communities, and to call our own government to denounce the human rights violations in Colombia and support the full implementation of the 2016 Peace Accords.

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