On 16 March 2018, 27 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) sent a letter to the Colombian Government to express concerns about the increase in assassinations and aggressions against human rights defenders (HRDs), environmental defenders and social and community leaders. In the letter, the MEPs highlight the serious increase in assassinations of those who defend their own or collective rights and those who are involved in the implementation of the Peace Accord.
It concerns us that the majority of these assassinations occurred after repeated reports of previous threats made to the victim, meaning that many of these crimes could have been avoided. There is still a lack of adequate planned prevention programmes; and many of the programmes that do exist are not capable of providing the necessary guarantees for the defence of human rights because they lack the application of a territorial, differentiated and gender-orientated approach and that respond to challenges in the current context.
Reiterating the European Parliament’s continued support for the implementation of the Peace Accord, the MEPs emphasised the importance of making progress in the implementation of collective measures that respond to current challenges. As examples of these challenges they mentioned the assassinations of the land restitution leaders Mario Castaño Bravo and Hernan Bedoya in Uraba at the end of 2017, as well as the assassination of Temistocles Machado in Buenaventura on 27 January 2018. These three leaders had previously reported death threats made against them; however, the State failed to implement safeguarding measures to protect their lives.
The results in terms of the investigation, trial and sanctioning of those responsible still do not seem sufficient to ensure the non-repetition of the crimes and end the high-rates of impunity that still surround these types of crimes. We are aware that Colombia is facing multiple challenges in the context of the implementation of the Peace Agreement; however, we have noted with great concern, the proliferation of illegal armed groups in all parts of Colombia. Parallel to this, we have seen a lack of adequate response on behalf of the Colombian state.
In addition, the MEPs expressed concerns regarding reports of links between sectors of the Security Forces, political and economic elites and paramilitary successor groups.
ABColombia is pleased that six UK and Irish MEPs have signed this letter:
- Martina Anderson, United Kingdom
- Lynn Boylan, Ireland
- Matt Carthy, Ireland
- Liadh Ní Riada, Ireland
- Keith Taylor, United Kingdom
- Julie Ward, United Kingdom
You can download the full letter in English and Spanish by clicking on the buttons below. More information can be found on Oidhaco’s website.