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News > Colombia

Colombia: EU Pledges $2M to Investigate Social Leaders Killings

  • EU Special Envoy for the Peace Process Eamon Gilmore in Bogota, Colombia, July 8, 2019.

    EU Special Envoy for the Peace Process Eamon Gilmore in Bogota, Colombia, July 8, 2019. | Photo: EFE

Published 9 July 2019

FARC lawmakers urged EU donor countries to demand that President Duque to report on the use of their resources.

The European Union (EU) announced Monday that it will allocate US$2.24 million to strengthen the special unit of the Prosecutor's Office that investigates the murders of social leaders and former guerrilla fighters in Colombia.


Revered Social Leader and Activist Killed in Colombia

"It is a program that increases the EU firm and determined commitment to the Colombian peace process, a commitment which is backed by political and diplomatic actions," the EU ambassador to Colombia Patricia Llombart said.

The EU Special Envoy for the Peace Process in Colombia Eamon Gilmore, who met with Colombian President Ivan Duque, also expressed the EU's "unrestricted support" for the implementation of peace.

"We talked about several aspects of the peace agreement, but especially about what I consider to be the biggest challenge it faces: the continuation of the murders of ex-combatants, social leaders and human rights defenders," Gilmore stressed.

He also recalled that most of the social leader killings take place in "remote communities" that often lack access to public services.

More than 700 social leaders and 135 former guerrilla fighters have been assassinated since 2016, according to data from the Institute of Studies on Peace and Development (Indepaz).

The peace agreement signed between the Colombian state and the People's Alternative Revolutionary Force of Colombia (FARC) established the creation of a special investigation unit, which should seek to dismantle criminal organizations and conducts that are responsible for homicides and massacres against human rights defenders.

The EU resources will be invested in improving logistical, technical and technological resources, as well as in facilitating the access of the unit officials to remote rural areas to process crime scenes.

The money will also be invested in optimizing information management technologies and in receiving international assistance to characterize criminal organizations and their territories.

Two former FARC combatants, lawmaker Jairo Cala and senator Griselda Lobo, said that the EU donor countries must demand that the Colombian government report on the use of such funds.

"We are insisting that a space be created in the European Parliament for EU donor countries to ask the Colombian government for accounts of where the resources are and whether they are really being used for the Colombian implementation and reincorporation process," Lobo said.

Cala stressed that some 13,200 former combatants face an uncertain future in a country whose economy does not offer opportunities at all and showed concern for their physical and legal security.

"The peace agreement does not aim to produce revolutionary transformations. It simply aims to contribute positively to the country's modernization, to make a country in which we can all live without our lives being at risk," lawmaker Cala said.

He pointed out that the transformation of rural areas is fundamental, however, "no progress has been made" because the government has only designed territorial development plans which "do not have resources or institutional support to be implemented."

Cala also criticized the lack of progress in implementing a political reform which allows small parties to participate on an equal footing.

This is why, he said, the voices of more than eight million victims have not been heard in the Colombian Congress as the majority the political parties are opposed to expanding congressional presence to smaller parties.  

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