On Wednesday, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) revealed that the number of reports of murders of human rights defenders in Colombia increased by 35 percent between 2020 and 2021.
In the latter year, 202 complaints were received by this multilateral office, which managed to verify only the murder of 78 activists. Seventeen of the murdered leaders were dedicated to defending Indigenous or Afro-descendant communities. Five of them were women.
The departments with the highest number of murders of human rights defenders were Valle del Cauca (31), Cauca (11), Antioquia (6), Cundinamarca(5), and Choco (5).
The OHCHR warned that the death toll may increase since their experts still have to verify 39 killing reports, which comprise the cases of eight Indigenous leaders, two Afro-Colombians, and an LGBTI community defender.
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On Wednesday, the United Nations also called attention to the situation of the rural child population, which is the principal victim of Colombia’s structural violence.
To counteract this situation, Virginia Gamba, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC), called on armed groups to stop indiscriminate violence against the civilian population and on the Colombian government to adopt urgent policies in this regard.
“The State must increase its presence in rural areas and ensure that such crimes and murders do not go unpunished. Only this way, stability and peace will return to the Colombian people,” she stressed.