Frontline Defenders 2017 Annual Report


On 22 January 2018, Frontline Defenders launched their Annual Report on Human Rights Defenders at Risk in 2017. In this annual report, Front Line Defenders documented cases of HRDs from 27 countries worldwide. The report makes for shocking reading, especially regarding the situation of HRDs in Colombia. It highlights that 80% of the documented killings of HRDs were in just four countries: Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and the Philippines. Below is a summary of the evidence related to Colombia.

Frontline documented 312 HRDs killed globally in 2017 – of these 30% were Colombian (94 defenders killed) and 212 were killed in the Americas. This means that:

44% of all defenders killed in the Americas were Colombian

Whilst homicides in general have decreased in Colombia since the signing of the Peace Accord between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the number of killings of HRDs has dramatically increased, with most of the defenders dying at the hands of neo-paramilitary or ‘unidentified’ armed actors.

Nearly one in three defenders killed globally was Colombian


Land and Human Rights Defenders

67% of defenders killed globally were engaged in the defence of land, environmental and indigenous peoples’ rights and nearly always in the context of mega projects, extractive industry and big business.

Land has been at the root of Colombia’s armed conflict. Therefore, without the full implementation of rural reforms promised in the Peace Accord, alongside the dismantling of neo-paramilitary and other armed groups, it is likely that this pattern of killing of those defenders working on land and victims’ rights will continue.

Business and Human Rights Defenders

Despite Colombia having a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, Front Line Defenders found that in cases involving land and mega-projects “countries, governments and security forces were, at best, unresponsive to threats and attacks faced by HRDs and, at worst, state security forces were themselves responsible for the killings.” (page 6)

Although the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, John Ruggie, launched a Framework for Business and Human Rights in 2008, Frontline Defenders found that:

…international investors and parent companies, whose funding and support initiated and enabled [mega projects, extractives and other big business projects], still do not regard local community leaders and HRDs as key actors to consult when planning projects. This lack of consultation increases the risk of confrontation further down the line and it denies companies early warning signals when conflict in local areas does emerge…

State Responsibilities

Frontline reports that globally, there was a weak response from both national governments and the international community in relation to threats, attacks and killings of HRDs. In 84% of killings, Frontline documented a lack of response from the State to information they had received in relation to previous threats, where they considered, “if preventive action were taken … at an early stage, attacks against HRDs could be dramatically reduced” (page 6).

Impunity for acts of violence against HRDs continues to enable an environment of frequent killings. Among those cases for which Frontline Defenders has collected data, only 12% globally resulted in the arrest of suspects.

Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) and LGBTI

The number and frequency of attacks against WHRDs also rose. These threats and attacks often included elements related, not only to their work, but also to their gender. A gendered dynamic to the targeting of WHRDs was prevalent in every region documented by Frontline Defenders (page 7).

  • In April, a friend of peasant farmer HRD Marylen Serna Salinas was abducted and sexually assaulted by three unidentified men in Popayán, Colombia. The men stated the reason for the attack was Marylen’s work (page 13).
  • Children of WHRDs were also threatened, as was the case with the daughter of Maria Leonilda Ravelo Grimaldo in Colombia, who had a gun pointed at her by two men on a motorcycle (page 7).
  • WHRDs also experienced discrimination from within the human rights movement when they challenged cultural and social norms as part of their human rights work (page 7).

During the course of the year, Frontline Defenders also received reports of an alarming increase in homophobic and transphobic attacks in Colombia (page 13).

Criminalisation of Defenders

  • Filing baseless lawsuits against HRDs was still one of the most common strategies used by both governments and non-state actors. Peru, Colombia, Guatemala, Ecuador, Honduras and Mexico accounted for most of the cases reported to Frontline Defenders in 2017

Cyber Attacks

  • Throughout the Americas, there have been persistent reports of cyber attacks targeting HRDs’ work. Most common have been distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. In 2017, Front Line Defenders documented such attacks in Colombia.

Frontline Defenders documented the following HRDs killed in COLOMBIA

  1. Mario Castaño Bravo
  2. Mario Jacanamaijoy
  3. Albert Martinez Olarte
  4. Ramon Alcides Garcia Zapata
  5. Eliecer Carvajal
  6. Liliana Patricia Castaño Montoya
  7. Miguel Angel Cardona
  8. Ofelia Espinoza De Lopez
  9. Oscar Ferney Tenorio
  10. Jorge Luis Garcia del Rio
  11. Luis Villadiego Puentes
  12. Juana Almazo Epiayu
  13. Nelson Eduardo Velandia Ortiz
  14. Maritza Yuliana Garcia Vinasco
  15. Jose Adalberto Torrijano Andrade
  16. Javier Sevilla Alvarez
  17. Roberto Ortega Maclauslan
  18. José Yimer Cartagena Usuga
  19. Gildardo Antonio Valdés
  20. Luis Edilson Arango Gallego
  21. Fabián Aberto Álvarez Marín
  22. Liliana Astrid Ramírez Martínez
  23. Ezquivel Manyoma
  24. Jimmy Humberto Medina Trujillo
  25. Wilmer Hernández Caicedo
  26. Jairo Arturo Chilito Muñoz
  27. Luis Fernando Gil
  28. Hector William Mina
  29. María Efigenia Vasques
  30. Manuel Ramírez Mosquera
  31. Fernando Rivas Asprilla
  32. Aulio Isararama Forastero
  33. Eugenio Rentería Martínez
  34. Alberto Román Acosta
  35. Katherine Escalante Castilla
  36. Narda Barchilón
  37. Ricardo Córdoba
  38. Iván Martínez
  39. Wilmar Felipe Barona
  40. Efren Santo
  41. José Reyes Guerrero Gaitán
  42. Carlos Augusto Paneso
  43. Daniel Felipe Castro Basto
  44. Jairo Arturo Muñoz
  45. Jesús María Morales Morales
  46. César Augusto Parra
  47. Alciviades de Jesús Largo Hernández
  48. Carlos de Jesús Báez Torres
  49. Eberto Julio Gómez Mora
  50. Miguel Emiro Pérez
  51. José Jair Cortés
  52. Emigdio Dávila
  53. Aldemar Parra García
  54. Miguel Ángel Hoyos
  55. Eberto Julio Gómez Mora
  56. Wilfredy González Noreña
  57. Albenio Isaias Roseo Alvarez
  58. Edenis Barrera Benavides
  59. Fabian Antonio Rivera Arroyave
  60. Eder Cuetia Conda
  61. Falver Cerón Gómez
  62. Hernando Murillo Armijo
  63. Jorge Iván Bigamá Ogarí
  64. Emilsen Manyoma
  65. Edmiro León Alzate Londoño
  66. Wiwa Yoryanis Isabel Bernal Varela
  67. Edilberto Cantillo Meza
  68. Ruth Alicia Lopez Guisao
  69. Javier Oteca Pilcué
  70. Deiner Alexander Mendez Berrío
  71. Diego Fernando Rodriguez
  72. Montenegro
  73. Eliver Buitrago Gutierrez
  74. Luis Genaro Ochoa Sánchez
  75. Camilo Alberto Pinzon Galeano
  76. Rubiela Sánchez Vargas
  77. Idaly Castillo Narváez
  78. Severino Grueso Caicedo
  79. Jose Maria Lemus Téllez
  80. Nelson Fabra Díaz
  81. José Reyes Guerrero Gaitán
  82. Álvaro Arturo Tenorio Cabezas
  83. Mario Andrés Calle Correa
  84. Jorge Arbey Chantre Achipiz
  85. Jáider Jiménez Cardona
  86. Nolberto Lozada Ramón
  87. Gerson Acosta Salazar
  88. Bernardo Cuero Bravo
  89. Mauricio Fernando Vélez Lopez
  90. Segundo Victor Castillo
  91. Ezequiel Rangel Romano
  92. Washington Cedeño Otero