HAVANA TIMES – The UN Human Rights Office is “deeply troubled” by the killings of at least 107 civil society activists in Colombia last year, a spokesperson said on Tuesday, reported dpa news.
The Geneva-based UN office is currently trying to verify 13 additional reported cases from 2019, spokesperson Marta Hurtado told a press conference, adding that the trend is continuing, with at least 10 people killed since the start of January.
“The vicious and endemic cycle of violence and impunity must stop,” Hurtado said, adding that such attacks are “an assault against democracy, undermining participation and people’s access to their human rights.”
Hundreds of community leaders have been assassinated in the South American country since the government signed a peace deal with the guerrilla group FARC in November 2016, the non-governmental organization Institute of Studies for Development and Peace (Indepaz) reported last year.
FARC’s withdrawal from rural areas left a power vacuum in which other guerrillas, criminal and paramilitary groups started fighting for control of territory and local people.
Victims include human rights, land rights and anti-corruption activists; advocates of substituting coca fields with alternative crops; opponents of mining projects; and leftist politicians.
Last year, the killings mostly targeted activists working for community-based and ethnic groups such as indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombians, according to the UN Human Rights Office.