Novidades

REPRESIÓN CONTRA CODECA: LA PELIGROSA VOCACION DE EJERCER Y DEFENDER DERECHOS EN GUATEMALA

De acuerdo con un nuevo informe de CODECA 14 miembros de la organización han sido asesinados desde enero de 2018, en el contexto de una campaña de amenazas y ataques directos.

La represión es un mecanismo para frenar las luchas de los pueblos que defienden sus derechos frente a los intereses voraces de sectores de poder económico. En Guatemala CODECA es el movimiento social más perseguido y criminalizado en los últimos años.

En menos de dos años (de Enero 2018 a Septiembre 2019) 14 personas defensoras de DDHH integrantes de CODECA han sido asesinadas. En este mismo lapso de tiempo un total de 5748 personas defensoras han recibido diferentes tipos de agresiones. Los casos más frecuentes son criminalización,

amenazas colectivas a comunidades, amenazas directas a la integridad de defensores o sus familias y encarcelamientos. No se cuantifica en este documento las víctimas de las campañas de difamación y estigmatización, estos afectan masivamente a todas las familias organizadas en CODECA.

Todos los casos de represión contra CODECA siguen en la impunidad. Casi siempre, el sistema de justicia en Guatemala es utilizado por los sectores de poder para perseguir y criminalizar a defensores/as y organizaciones que defienden

DDHH. La respuesta estatal a la represión, siempre ha sido nula. El mismo gobierno central de Guatemala es uno de los actores que ha estigmatizado a las organizaciones y a las personas defensoras de DDHH. No hay voluntad política por

parte del gobierno de atender esta problemática.

Como mecanismo de defensa por parte de CODECA ante la represión, se han implementado diferentes estrategias, una de ellas es que se a seguido muy bien la consigna que dice “Ante mayor represión, mayor organización”. Se ha implementado una estrategia de comunicación mediante una red nacional

de comunicadores comunitarios que trabajan redes sociales y una Radio, Radio Victoria la Voz de los Pueblos. A nivel nacional también se ha articulado una red de defensores/as comunitarios para generar mecanismos de apoyo mutuo y respuestas ante la represión.

A pesar de la adversidad, CODECA ha logrado crecer a nivel nacional. Ha fortalecido su lucha por la defensa de los DDHH, la Madre Tierra y el Territorio. Ha avanzado cada vez más en el posicionamiento público de la propuesta de construcción del Estado Plurinacional y el Buen Vivir de los pueblos, mediante

un proceso de Asamblea Constituyente Popular y Plurinacional (ACPP). Una apuesta es lograr que los pueblos y sectores históricamente excluidos sean sujetos/as de derechos, y la Madre Tierra sea concebida y protegida como fuente de vida y no como recurso para ser explotado.

Two Years On, The Death of Santiago Maldonado Opens Old Wounds for Argentina

By Ligimat Perez for Front line Defenders

Santiago Maldonado disappeared while protesting for the right to land. Not for his own, since he was born into a prosperous family in the province of Buenos Aires. Two years ago, on the 1st of August 2017, he was protesting for the right of the Mapuche people to a piece of Argentinian Patagonia.

His body was only found months later, on October 17, but the actual circumstances of his death remain a mystery for many people. The judge in the case, Gustavo Lleral, found that there was no crime: “Maldonado drowned due to immersion in water aggravated by hypothermia. However he omitted to mention that the autopsy had also determined that this was a case of “violent death”.

Various witnesses and family members have stated that this was a case of forced disappearance. They have given evidence that the 28 year-old was arrested by members of the gendarmerie (a military police unit) near the Chabut River where he was seen for the last time during the police clamp down on the protest organised by the members of the “Pu Lof en Resistencia” community.

The case has caused a lot of controversy in Argentina, where it has awoken memories of the forced disappearances that took place during the military dictatorship and intensified the existing political polarisation in the country.

There have been numerous protests, some with the participation of former president Cristina Kirchner. There have also been discussions on television, editorials in the newspapers, posters and paintings with the picture of Santiago in the streets and on social media.

In no way could he be considered a typical human rights defender. El Lechuga, as he was known in the University of Plata where he studied fine art, was a handsome backpacker, who wore dreadlocks and made his living doing tattoos and craftwork. He was a nomad who got involved in many different causes, which inspired the murals he used to paint in the streets.

There was a theme connecting all the work that he did during his life: “He believed that we all have a right to a small piece of the earth where we were born”, says his older brother Sergio Maldonado, who has been leading the campaign and acts as the main spokesperson for the Maldonado family. Some of his murals speak of this, as well as his opposition to the use of pesticides and the rights of indigenous peoples to the land.

Maldonado, who since April 2017 was living in the Patagonian region of El Bolsón, had gone to Cuchamen where he joined the protest of the “Pu Lof en Resistencia” community. Since 2015 the Mapuche people have occupied a piece of the large lot of land bought by businessman Luciano Benetton, of the famous Italian clothing company. The Mapuche consider these their ancestral lands.

The land dispute between the Mapuche and Benetton has been going on for two decades. In 2002, a Mapuche community was accused of usurpation after returning to their ancestral land (625 hectares of the 900,000 that Benetton bought in four Argentine provinces). After unsuccessful attempts to resolve the conflict, they were evicted. The same story was repeated in 2007, and again in 2015.

These years of conflict have not paid off for the Mapuche. Their leaders have been persecuted both in Chile and in Argentina, they have been described as terrorists and their protest on both sides of the border has been criminalized and repressed with an excess of violence which has been the subject of repeated official complaints.

The same pattern of excessive use of force was repeated on the 1 August 2017 in Chubut when the police clamped down on the protest and when Santiago Maldonado was seen for the last time.

Although the death of Santiago remains a mystery, there is no doubt about the struggle that the Mapuche and many other indigenous peoples are fighting today in Latin America in the face of mega projects, monoculture and engineering works that threaten what remains of their ancestral lands.

According to figures from Front Line Defenders, in the last year alone approximately 250 people have been killed around the world for their work in defending the rights of indigenous peoples, the right to land and environmental rights.

“It’s not that Santiago’s life is worth more than another life. It’s just that if his death goes unpunished, you feel that it is setting a bad precedent”, says Sergio Maldonado. “In Argentina there has been a long fight to defend human rights and combat disappearances. This is a step backwards.”

Colombia: Nueveo informe confirma que si – sistematicidad, un hecho probado en el asesinato de líderes sociales

 

Un informe de la Comisión Colombiana de Juristas, la Universidad Nacional y varias organizaciones sociales ilustra cómo el asesinato de líderes sociales en Colombia es el resultado de “una violencia metódica y no aleatoria”, desde la firma del Acuerdo de Paz con las Farc en 2016.

Con respecto a los crímenes que configuran violaciones al derecho a la vida e integridad contra defensoras y defensores de derechos humanos y líderes y lideresas sociales, los hallazgos de este informe definen patrones concretos en lo referente a las violaciones a los derechos a la vida e integridad en cuanto a: su localización dentro de un determinado ámbito geográfico, las personas contra las que se perpetran las violaciones, el modo en el que estas violaciones se llevan a cabo, su frecuencia y sus posibles perpetradores.

Para elaborar la construcción de patrones se tomará como base el concepto de “Moda estadística”, entendida como el factor o condición que más se repite en una muestra o estudio.

Naturaleza de los crímenes: Este fenómeno de violencia evidencia una naturaleza repetitiva, invariable y continua; es una violencia perpetrada de manera reiterada, metódica y no aleatoria. Es un ejercicio de violencia no accidental ni fortuito ejercido de manera ilegal contra una población civil concreta. Las víctimas presentan unas características comunes determinadas por sus cualidades y sus luchas.

Se tomará como base el concepto de “Moda estadística”, entendida como el factor o condición que más se repite en una muestra o estudio. Naturaleza de los crímenes: Este fenómeno de violencia evidencia una naturaleza repetitiva, invariable y continua; es una violencia perpetrada de manera reiterada, metódica y no aleatoria. Es un ejercicio de violencia no accidental ni fortuito ejercido de manera ilegal contra una población civil concreta. Las víctimas presentan unas características comunes determinadas por sus cualidades y sus luchas.

Características de las víctimas: El perfil de los líderes sociales y defensores de derechos humanos asesinados se elabora por su condición más activa o evidente, que puede estar vinculada con los móviles de su asesinato. Las víctimas, en su mayoría, son personas en condición de vulnerabilidad socioeconómica ubicadas en una posición de desventaja en las relaciones asimétricas de poder

regionales, pertenecientes a grupos étnicos históricamente discriminados, de extracción campesina y algunas de ellas eran o son (los sobrevivientes) víctimas del desplazamiento forzado o de otras acciones propias del conflicto armado. Las víctimas de asesinatos y desapariciones forzadas, en su mayoría son dignatarios y dignatarias de JAC, líderes(as) Indígenas, líderes(as) de organizaciones campesinas, de Consejos Comunitarios, de procesos de restitución de tierras, de organizaciones de víctimas, líderes(as) Ambientales y líderes(as) de población LGBTI.

En 2017 y 2018 se evidencia un incremento en violaciones al derecho a la vida y la integridad de líderes(as) de procesos de sustitución de cultivos de uso ilícito, directivos sindicales y de miembros de los partidos políticos FARC y Colombia Humana. Algunas de las víctimas no hacían parte de una organización y otras sí. La frecuencia de violaciones al derecho a la vida contra miembros de las organizaciones mencionadas en el informe apunta a demostrar que existen patrones de violencia contra estas organizaciones. El que miembros de estas organizaciones hayan sido víctimas de agresiones de manera reiterada también puede indicar la posible existencia de niveles de planeación de estos crímenes.

Luchas de las víctimas: En general, las víctimas de violaciones al derecho a la vida llevaban a cabo ejercicios de poder contra-hegemónico en el ámbito local 218 que afectan intereses de grupos ilegales, pero también de grupos económicos, empresas o personas que son consideradas por el Estado y la sociedad como inscritos en la legalidad. Las víctimas eran un obstáculo para determinados actores que detentan el poder económico, político o armado en las regiones afectadas. Las acciones y luchas más evidenciadas de las víctimas registradas se centran en: defensa de los derechos a la tierra y el territorio, veeduría y denuncia de crímenes de actores hegemónicos, denuncias de despojo de tierras, de actos de corrupción de funcionarios estatales, de presencia de actores armados, de reclutamiento forzado y de microtráfico. Otras víctimas hacían oposición a megaproyectos económicos, de explotación o de industrias extractivas que afectan negativamente a la comunidad (de petroleras, minería legal e ilegal, construcción de represas), hacían defensa de derechos sexuales y reproductivos o trabajaban en proyectos de sustitución de cultivos de uso ilícito y otros referentes a la implementación del Acuerdo de Paz entre el Estado y la antigua guerrilla de las FARC.

Colombia: Six human rights defenders killed during the first week of 2019

Six human rights defenders, Maritza Quiroz Leiva, Wilson Pérez Ascanio, José Rafael Solano, Wilmer Antonio Miranda, Jesús Adier Perafán, and Gilberto Valencia were killed in violent attacks in Colombia during the first week of 2019.

Maritza Quiroz Leiva was a woman human rights defender, deputy of the Victims Committee of Santa Marta (Mesa de Víctimas of Santa Marta) and the leader of a group of Afro-Colombian women who have been victims of enforced displacement in rural areas. She advocated for the rights of all victims of the Colombian conflict, especially regarding situations of enforced displacement, which she suffered herself, and of the Afro-community that she was a part of.

At 3am on 7 January 2019, Maritza Quiroz Leiva was killed by unidentified armed men who broke into her rural property in San Isidro, in Sierra Nevada, Santa Marta. Before the armed men entered her house, Maritza Quiroz Leiva asked her son Luis Camilo Bermúdez Quiroz to hide under the bed, from were he heard the shots. He ran to a police station as soon as the killers left.

Wilson Pérez Ascanio was a human rights defender, social leader, and member of the Movement for the Popular Constituent (Movimiento por la Constituyente Popular, MCP). On 5 January 2019, he was shot by unidentified armed men on a motorcycle in Hacarí, Norte de Santander. He was transferred to a nearby hospital in La Playa de Belén, but died in the early hours of 6 January 2019.

José Rafael Solano was a human rights defender, president of the Community Action Board (Junta de Acción Comunal) and social leader. At 5pm on 4 January 2019, unidentified armed men shot him dead in front of his house, between the municipalities of Zaragoza and Caucasia, in Bajo Cauca, Antioquia. His family witnessed the crime.

Wilmer Antonio Miranda was a human rights defender and member of the Cajibio Peasant Workers Association (Asociación de Trabajadores Campesinos de Cajibio), of the National Asociation of Peasant Reserves (Asociación Nacional de Zonas de Reserva Campesina), the National Coordination of Coca, Amapola and Marijuana Cultivators (Coordinadora Nacional de Cultivadores de Coca, Amapola y Marihuana), and the Social and Political Coordination Patriotic March in the Cauca region. At 6pm on 4 January 2019, he was shot by four unidentified men, dressed as civilians, and died immediately.

Jesús Adier Perafán was a social leader and citizen inspector of the Caicedonia municipality, as well as the founder of the Courage Caicedonia (Coraje Caicedonia) political organisation and president of the Community Action Board (Junta de Acción Comunal) of the Valle del Cauca neighbourhood. On 1 January 2019, he was shot at repeatedly while he was at the grocery store by unidentified armed men, who subsequently escaped on motorcycles. Jesús Adier Perafán was taken to the Santander de Caicedonia Hospital, where he died of his gunshot wounds. The investigations are facing difficulties due to the lack of witnesses to the attack.

Gilberto Valencia was a human rights defender, social leader, peace-builder and cultural manager of the Suárez municipality in Cauca, who worked to disseminate the terms of the Colombian Peace Agreement through music. He was also the leader of the “Los Herderos” group, and won an award in 2015 for his social enterpreneurship. He was shot dead during a New Year’s Eve celebration with his family and friends in the municipality of Suárez, Cauca. A lone gunman, believed to have been known to Gilberto Valencia in the context of his social work, is understood to have carried out the attack with an altered firearm.

Colombia has seen an increase in violence against human rights defenders since the signing of the Peace Agreement with the FARC-EP. Two years on, the State has failed to implement most of its obligations, including establishing an integrated presence in rural regions. This has has led to a number of illegal armed groups fighting for control of the areas previously occupied by FARC-EP, which puts human rights defenders at an increased risk.

Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned about the wave of killings of human rights defenders in Colombia, which witnessed more killings of defenders than any other country worldwide in 2018. The epidemic has already reached extremely worrying heights during the first week of 2019. Front Line Defenders is noticing a pattern of killings against defenders in the country, which often feature armed attacks by unidentified armed men.

Colombia: Stunning visualisation of killings of social leaders between January 2016 and July 2018

Published on Jul 25, 2018

Visualización geográfica del asesinato de líderes sociales en Colombia entre enero de 2016 y Julio de 2018, a partir de datos recolectados en sitios Web de diversos medios de comunicación, tomando como base la información publicada por el programa Somos Defensores https://somosdefensores.org y el portal Verdad Abierta
https://verdadabierta.com Herramientas: vue.js y d3.js con interacción en el navegador. Data visualization project that shows the geographic location of the murder of social leaders in Colombia between January 2016 and July 2018, based on data collected from news websites and the information published by “Somos Defensores”
https://somosdefensores.org and “Verdad Abierta” https://verdadabierta.com Tools: vue.js and d3.js so it is an interactive infographic to be used in the browser Created by Pacarina Media Lab http://www.pacarina.com
Music by Paul Kraemer.

Global Witness Annual Report: The world is deadlier than ever for land and environmental defenders, with agribusiness the industry most linked to killings

It has never been a deadlier time to defend one’s community, way of life, or environment. Our latest annual data into violence against land and environmental defenders shows a rise in the number of women and men killed last year to 207 – the highest total we have ever recorded. What’s more, our research has highlighted agribusiness including coffee, palm oil and banana plantations as the industry most associated with these attacks

Download the report in full: At What Cost? (PDF, 3MB)

Read online: photos and stories of defenders around the world

Hear the voices of environmental and land rights defenders – click below

Hernán Bedoya, from Colombia, was shot by a paramilitary group 14 times for protesting against palm oil and banana plantations that were expanding over his community’s territory and clearing the forest.

In the Philippines, after protesting the expansion of a coffee plantation, a community near Lake Sebu was attacked by military forces, leaving eight dead, five wounded, and forcing 200 to flee.

And in Brazil, farmers assaulted the indigenous Gamela community after they attempted to protect their land from logging, severely injuring 22, including children.

But it’s not just defenders in these countries who are being threatened, attacked, or killed for fighting to protect their land and way of life. Countless people around the world are under threat for standing up to the might of large corporations, paramilitary groups, and even their own governments.

The data we have painstakingly gathered and presented in this report and the case studies included are almost certainly a sizeable underestimate, given the many challenges in identifying and reporting killings. Yet even as it stands, it shows that the risks defenders face every day continue to grow, and governments and business have a very serious case to answer.

The global movement

Of the 207 defenders murdered last year, a vast majority of them hailed from Latin America, which remains the most dangerous region for defenders, accounting for 60% of those killed in 2017. Brazil saw 57 murders alone – the worst year on record anywhere in the world.

But not a single region was immune to the growing number of attacks on its defenders. The Philippines saw 48 defenders killed, the highest number ever in an Asian country. And in Africa, 19 defenders were reported killed, 12 of whom were in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Defenders 2018 - Country Killings

 

You can find the English Spanish and Portuguese versions of the report here

Global Witness

T: +44 (0) 20 7492 5827 | M: +44 (0)7703 671 308
Skype: falconkyte | Twitter: @BillyKyteGW |www.globalwitness.org

FIND THE FACTS | EXPOSE THE STORY | CHANGE THE SYSTEM

India: Dalit activism: the "God of Small Things" and endemic discrimination

God of Small Things

Arundhati Roy’s 1996 novel drew international attention to the plight of India’s Dalit community, Formerly known as “untouchables,” Dalits suffer endemic discrimination and are systematically denied access to public spaces and resources. Over a decade after the book’s publication this situation has worsened, as has that of Dalit human rights defenders (HRDs.)

Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, has said that “Indian authorities have proven themselves unwilling to protect minority religious communities and other vulnerable groups from frequent attack.” According to the National Crimes Records Bureau, crimes against Dalits occurred every 15 minutes on average in 2016, an increase over 2015 figures. Tallies by NGOs and news organisations suggest that the upward trend has intensified throughout 2017 and 2018. Dalit women are particularly vulnerable to abuses. Conviction rates for crimes against Dalits are extremely low in certain regions; the state of Maharashtra, for example, stands at less than 5%. Photojournalist Sudharak Olwe’s ongoing case study of crimes against Dalits in this state found that in most incidents, “the victim was involved in either emancipatory work for his community or struggling to make his life better.”

The spike in abuses may in fact be a response to Dalits’ increasing assertion of their rights, according to Dalit HRD Asif Shaikh. In March of this year, a Supreme Court judgement claimed that a law which offers significant legal recourse for Dalits was used “as an instrument to blackmail or to wreak personal vengeance”. Nationwide protests, referred to by Al Jazeera as a Dalit Spring, followed. Though they began peacefully, demonstrations were met with violence; 11 people were killed.

In May, Sachin Walia was shot dead. His brother Kamal is a leader in the Bhim Army, an organization that works for Dalit emancipation through education. A month after Sachin’s killing, five Dalit HRDs were arrested and may face life in prison for allegedly inciting caste violence. Urgent action appeals have been issued for dozens of other violations of Dalit HRDs’ rights.

Violence against Dalits is often framed as nothing new, which may actually be fuelling the increase in abuses. It is more important than ever to support the empowerment of this community, remembering Dalit leader BR Ambedker’s words: “ rights are protected not by law but by social and moral conscience of the society. If social conscience is such that it is prepared to recognise the rights which law proposes to enact, rights will be safe and secure.”

Sources

https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/asia-and-the-pacific/india/report-india/

https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/06/24/india-dalit-rights-activists-detained

https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2018/country-chapters/india

http://www.ncdhr.org.in/latestinterventions/Report%20UN%20SR%20HRD.doc

http://ncrb.gov.in/StatPublications/CII/CII2016/pdfs/NEWPDFs/Crime%20in%20India%20-%202016%20Complete%20PDF%20291117.pdf

https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2018/04/07/bhim-army-bharat-bandh-dalit-mass-arrest-april-18.html

https://thewire.in/politics/bhim-army-leaders-brother-shot-and-killed-in-saharanpur-tension-prevails

https://www.ucanews.com/news/life-worsens-for-indias-dalits-as-vigilantism-resurfaces/82568

Colombia: 19 Social Leaders Killed in 1 Month, 100 in 2018

Source Telesur

Various human rights and social organizations have demanded that the Colombian Government implement effective measures to prevent the wide-scale killing of social leaders.

From June 1 to July 3, some 19 social, community, Indigenous and Campesino leaders and activists have been killed in Colombia, multiple national and international organizations have reported.

Leonedis Sierra Ortiz, a 25-year-old community activist from Antioquia, Luis Cuarto Barrios Machado, a 55-year-old president of the citizen control oversight of Palmar Varela and Hector Santiago Anteliz, a 52-year-old member of the  Community Action Board (JAC), are among the victims.

Since the beginning of 2018, 100 social leaders have been killed in the Latin American country, as was reported by the Institute of Study on Peace and Development (Indepaz), in June.

Various human rights and social organizations have demanded that the Colombian Government implement effective measures to prevent the wide-scale killing of social leaders.

Social and political leaders were supposed to be protected by the peace agreement signed in Havana, in 2016.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights spoke out against the high incidence of deaths.

“We condemn the homicide of Hector Santiago Anteliz, 52-year-old, president of the JAC of San Jose, Teorama, in Norte de Santander. In 2018, we have documented 9 defenders’ homicides in this department.

Colombia: Tres líderes sociales asesinados durante Semana Santa

Source: El Espectador

Un indígena reclamante de tierras, un líder de víctimas y una lideresa de sustitución de cultivos ilícitos fueron las tres víctimas que dejó la semana de pascua en Cauca y Meta. Según el programa Somos Defensores, en los últimos tres meses 45 líderes fueron asesinados.

La semana de pascua terminó con un saldo en rojo para la implementación del acuerdo de paz: tres líderes sociales fueron asesinados, dos en Cauca y uno en el Meta, quienes fueron ultimados a tiros y en presencia de sus familiares. Así lo reportaron las organizaciones sociales del país, cuya alerta estuvo acompañada de una cifra escalofriante: 45 líderes sociales fueron asesinados en los primeros tres meses de 2018. Es decir, 26 más que en el mismo periodo de 2017 y 31 más que en 2016.

El primer homicidio se registró el viernes 30 de marzo a las 6:40 p.m., en la vía que comunica de Corinto hacia la vereda El Guanábano (norte del Cauca). Según lo informó el Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca (Cric), Héctor Janer Latín fue encontrado abaleado y sin signos vitales en un paraje de la vereda Gualanday, en donde también encontraron sus documentos y su celular, pero no su motocicleta.

También lea: Estos tres líderes fueron asesinados sin recibir protección del Estado

Las autoridades tradicionales aún no se atreven a mencionar responsables, sin embargo, dejaron constancia de que el hecho sucedió en el mismo lugar en donde minutos antes había estado el Ejército haciendo un retén. “El asesinato de Héctor Janer se da en el contexto de un descomunal escalamiento de la guerra en el norte del Cauca. Por un lado, grupos que se hacen llamar guerrilleros desafían la autonomía comunitaria sembrando terror y, por otro, grupos neoparamilitares operan, muchas veces, ante la vista gorda del Ejército y la Policía. Los mismos que han disparado contra civiles indefensos en acciones similares a las que en otros tiempos realizaban los grupos paramilitares”, sentenció el Cric a través de un comunicado que circuló en todos los resguardos indígenas del norte del Cauca.

El otro homicidio se registró en la noche del viernes santo, durante la procesión tradicional en la que participaban los pobladores de Rosas (sur del Cauca). Según lo reportó la Red por la Vida y los Derechos Humanos del Cauca, el líder de víctimas Belisario Benavidez fue abaleado en dos oportunidades por un joven que caminaba por el centro del pueblo, quien aprovechó el momento en que la víctima estaba subiendo a un sobrino a su motocicleta, para disparar. Tras caer el cuerpo del líder, el joven minutos después regresó para rematarlo.

De acuerdo con la organización de derechos humanos, Benavidez había llegado hace apenas dos años al municipio de Rosas. Era integrante de la mesa de víctimas de esa localidad y se desconoce si tenía amenazas por el ejercicio de su liderazgo comunitario. Los testigos de los hechos señalaron que la Policía capturó a un presunto responsable, pero que luego lo dejó en libertad al no hallarle elementos probatorios para incriminarlo en el hecho. El arma con la que fue asesinado Benevidez fue encontrada en un pastizal en el centro de Rosas.

Y del último crimen se informó el pasado primero de abril. Lo reportó la Fundación por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos del Oriente y Centro de Colombia (DHOC), a través de una detallada descripción de la labor que desempeñaba la dirigente campesina María Magdalena Cruz Rojas. Fue asesinada a las 9:00 p.m. del 30 de marzo frente a su esposo y su hijo en la vereda Unibrisas en zona rural de Mapiripán (Meta).

También lea: Siguen matando líderes sociales, un año después del acuerdo de paz

Teniendo en cuenta el informe de la organización social, Cruz Rojas era una de las líderes más importantes de Mapiripán en el Programa Nacional de Sustitución de Cultivos Ilícitos (PNIS), el cual surgió tras el acuerdo de paz con las Farc con el fin de que los campesinos erradicaran voluntariamente los cultivos de coca y marihuana a cambio de recibir inversión en el campo.

Sobre este último tema, los delegados de la Coordinadora de Cultivadores de Coca, Amapola y Marihuana (Coccam) se pronunciaron esta semana. Pusieron sobre la mesa la posibilidad de retirarse del programa por incumplimientos del Estado y el asesinato de los líderes que promueven la sustitución voluntaria en los territorios.

De acuerdo con el comunicado que emitió la Coccam, a la fecha han sido asesinados 31 integrantes de esta organización, que surgió tras el acuerdo de paz con las Farc para organizar a los campesinos del país que por años han trabajado con los cultivos de uso ilícito ante la ausencia del Estado.

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Colombia: Somos Defensores Annual Report documents 106 killings of HRDs in 2017 – with 18 in January 2018 alone

“Piedra en el Zapato” – “Stone in the Shoe”.

Bogotá D.C. March 1, 2018 – Communications Programma Somos Defensores

Programma Somos Defensores Annual Report for 2017 looks at the critical situation for HRDs in Colombia.

Yes, peace brought less general violence in Colombia but instead the violence focused on social leaders and human rights defenders (HRDs). 2017 was a sad year considering the 32.5% increase in killings which resulted in the deaths of 106 HRDs while 2018 seems likely to continue the same trend with 18 killings of HRDs in January alone. The government continues to issue decrees that are never implemented and we still don’t know if the new government will shelve them. Social leaders in rural areas of the country are facing another year of targeted violence that shows no sign of abating.

This report is an analysis of a year that we do not want to repeat.

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2017 was a year in which the armed confrontation and its endless list of victims ceased to be daily news. The signing and beginning of the implementation of the Peace Agreements, brought about a substantial decrease in deaths; However, in the midst of this positive trend, another phenomenon became increasingly evident and showed an unacceptable increase: the murder of social leaders and HRDs in Colombia.

Despite the peace process there are a number of trends which continue to put the lives of HRDs at risk: HRDs continue to be the target of systematic violence due to, newly emerging conflicts, : the absence of a state presence in some areas, the unbridled focus on the extraction of natural resources; drug trafficking; the fight for the land; hate crimes; corruption; the struggles of other guerrilla groups of paramilitary descent, the growing presence of Mexican drug cartels and organised crime in ex-FARC areas, among others.

Undoubtedly, 2017 was the most critical year in the eight year term of President Juan Manuel Santos. This level of violence against HRDs is very serious and besides worrying the human rights community, researchers, the international community and sectors sensitive to the phenomenon, it has become a STONE IN THE SHOE (Piedra em el Zapato) of the Santos Government in the context of its policy to create the conditions for peace. And at the same time HRDs in Colombia are also the “STONE IN THE SHOE” for those who want to seize control of the national territory, using any available means.

During 2017, 560 HRDs were attacked, which figure included 106 killings (32.5% increase), 370 threats, 50 attacks, 23 arbitrary detentions, 9 judicial proceedings and 2 thefts of sensitive information. Looking at the figures for the killings we can see that there was progress in 30% of the cases. In relation to killings of HRDs this report includes a comparative analysis of the various reports produced by social and human rights organisations in 2017. In this analysis we have found considerable convergence in the findings across all these reports in relation to, the number of killings of HRDs, the pattern of the killings, the profile of the leaders targeted, the areas with the highest number of killings and the identity of the alleged perpetrators.

The report also examines a number of issues that are central to the protection of HRDs, including:

  • the role of the new legal provisions derived from the Havana Agreement on issues for the protection of defenders that have not yet been implemented and remain on paper;

  • the failure of the Colombian Government to take preventive action;

  • the lack of progress in the Prosecutor’s office that is still not in a position to meet the demand for justice;

  • the slow response of state bodies in taking pre-emptive action before the massacre of defenders

  • the ongoing and constant stigmatisation of these activists that with the upcoming elections will raise the level of danger they face in every corner of the country.

But despite such bad news, the report also notes concrete proposals to get the country out of this mess and start looking for joint solutions to a problem that far from diminishing, is increasing daily and seems to want to stay for a long time. There is an urgent need to alert candidates to the Presidency so that, if they are elected, they don’t simply file this vital issue for the future of the country away in a drawer.

For the publication of this report we have counted on the invaluable collaboration of several prominent national cartoonists, who in solidarity have used their images to portray the reality faced by the country’s social leaders. So a special thanks to Julio César González – MATADOR, Pablo Pérez – ALTAIS, Carlos Arturo Romero, Marco Pinto, Harold Trujillo – CHÓCOLO and Cecilia Ramos – LA CHÉ. Your work may be appreciated in the report.

The complete figures on attacks against human rights defenders in Colombia for 2017 and other periods can be consulted at www.somosdefensores.org

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Carlos A. Guevara J.
Coordinador Comunicaciones, Incidencia y Sistema de Información – SIADDHH
Programa Somos Defensores-PNGPDDH
@SomosDef
Cel. (057) 3176677053
Tel.(057  1) 2814010
www.somosdefensores.org
Bogotá – Colombia