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  • Portraits of victims in Colombia

    Portraits of victims in Colombia's ongoing armed conflict. | Photo: Reuters

Published 5 April 2018

The groups highlight high rates of impunity for extrajudicial killings by Colombia's Armed Forces. Less than 10 percent of all cases have reached trial.   

Human rights report presented in Bogota, Colombia Wednesday shows human rights violations have not decreased despite the peace treaty signed between the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), as well as the current peace negotiations with the National Liberation Army.

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The report written by 24 organizations with the input of 500 Colombian human right groups says “despite important efforts like signing the peace agreement with FARC and dialogue with the ELN, in Colombia grave and systematic violations of human rights and infractions against International Humanitarian Law continue to be perpetrated and remain in impunity.”

The organizations are tasked with monitoring the fulfillment of recommendations made in 2008 and 2013 by the United Nations Human Rights Council in its Universal Periodic Review, which examines the situation of human rights in the U.N.'s 193 member states.

The document warns the implementation of the peace agreement is slow and faces severe obstacles such as the Decree 706 of 2017, which ordered the suspension of arrest orders against members of the Armed Forces linked to grave violations. The report also notes violations of the agreement, like the government’s failure to create an autonomous Search Unit for people thought to be disappeared.  

Furthermore, the report states that those who finance and benefit from paramilitarism are yet to be investigated by Colombia’s justice system, and that many business people, military officers and politicians accused by demobilized armed groups of financing paramilitary forces have not been investigated.

According to the report paramilitary groups and other armed groups like the ELN and FARC dissidents “have expanded,” which has resulted in no end to Colombia’s armed conflict despite the peace agreement with FARC.

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Disputes over territory has resulted in a documented increase in aggressions and killings of human rights advocates and social leaders. The reports cites 156 murders between January 2016 and March 5, 2017 recorded by Colombia’s Public Defender.

The state is not doing enough to protect the victims, the report further concludes. The document says the National Protection Unit has bureaucratic procedures that hinder the fulfillment of their role: to protect potential victims. The report highlights the murder of Bernardo Cuero on Jun. 7, 2017, an Afro-Colombian leader who despite receiving repeated threats from paramilitary groups, did not merit state protection after the Unit qualified his risk as “ordinary.”

Lastly, the report issues a damning evaluation of impunity in Colombia. “Since 2005 there have been 838 investigations for extrajudicial executions perpetrated by the Armed Forces, of which only 3.22 percent are in the phase of serving the sentence and 8.35 percent is in a trial phase.”

Numbers are worse for forced disappearances. Of 4,578 reported cases, 0.9 percent are in trial and in only 0.42 percent perpetrators have been sentenced.

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