The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Office (OHCHR) in Colombia denounced that paramilitary groups dedicated to drug trafficking and illegal mining activities murdered 22 citizens and detained 30 others in the Arauca department on Sunday.
Colombian Paramilitaries Invade Farmers Lands in Bolivar
"We express our deep concern over the escalation of the armed conflict in this department, in which gangs dispute territorial control," the office stated, adding that the conflict may pose displacement risk for at least 2,000 citizens.
To counteract this situation, Arauquita City Mayor Etelivar Torres will lead a security council with other mayors and Police brigades on Monday. “We need to accord a common strategy to solve the conflict,” he insisted.
The proposed policies include expediting investigations to apprehend the perpetrators of the crimes and implementing "humanitarian corridors", which are demilitarized zones intended to allow the safe transit of people threatened by armed groups out of the department.
“We work for the Colombian people. Therefore, protecting their life and well-being will always be our priority,” Torres insisted and urged gangsters to stop intimidating the civil population, whom the International Humanitarian Law protects amid armed confrontations.
Although the Colombian State and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed a Peace Agreement in 2016, at least 1,283 human rights defenders have been murdered ever since due to illegal armed group’s confrontations. On Friday, the Institute for Development and Peace Studies (INDEPAZ) denounced that social leaders Gustavo Orozco and Wilmar Ascanio were murdered in the Antioquia department.
"We can condemn the crimes and encourage authorities to prosecute their perpetrators promptly, but we will not have peace as long as the gangs continue to operate in our territories with impunity,” INDEPAZ said.