The Ombudsman's Office of Colombia reported 215 homicides of leaders and human rights defenders in 2022. The figure is the highest since 2016, the year that saw the signing of the peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) terrorist group.
Read here the communiqué on 2022, the year that marked a lamentable record of homicides of social leaders and human rights defenders in the country. 🗞️👉https://t.co/TyWtZsYZwT https://t.co/EZ48cpkT0Q pic.twitter.com/dkG8TyMOtr
- Ombudsman's Office (@DefensoriaCol) January 23, 2023
The Ombudsmen's Office (Defensoría del Pueblo) is in charge of overseeing human rights in the country. The data shows that the murders were concentrated in strategic locations where terrorist groups reside and operate. These groups are involved in illegal mining, drug trafficking and smuggling, mainly in regions characterized by the presence of coca leaf crops
Precisely, it coincides with those areas of the country where the main illegal armed groups and organized crime organizations are present.
The Ombudsman's Office's Early Warning System (SAT) reported that most homicides were registered in the areas of Nariño and Putumayo (bordering Ecuador); Cauca and Valle del Cauca (southwest); Antioquia (center); Bolivar (north); and Norte de Santander (bordering Venezuela).
Record number of murders
The number of homicides in 2022 exceeded the 145 reported during 2021 and the 182 in 2020. In total, between 2016 and 2022, 1,113 human rights defenders were killed.
Ombudsman Carlos Camargo, indicated that in spite of the "lamentable record of homicides, ... It's not just about numbers." Rather, the important issue is the "hard-hit families and affected communities that are left without the people who fight for their rights":
The year 2022 marked a lamentable record of homicides of social leaders and human rights defenders, as we registered a total of 215 murders. These are leaders who gather the concerns of the people, who are their spokespersons and who work for a country where human rights are respected.
Petro's "total peace"
The signing of the peace agreement with the FARC has so far not yielded the intended result. Other terrorist groups continue to commit crimes and violently dispute strategic areas for drug trafficking.
The government of the former guerrilla Gustavo Petro, who became president in August 2022, proposed a policy of "total peace" by initiating dialogue with terrorist groups such as the National Liberation Army (ELN) and rapprochement with FARC.
Camargo said he hopes that the talks with the ELN and the ceasefire with other armed groups will lead to "a decrease in actions against leaders" and human rights defenders and "put an end to this situation against this population."