Murders and threats against social leaders and human rights defenders, especially in the rural areas of Colombia, have increased despite the peace agreement signed two years ago.">
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  • Women, who were part of the former FARC, work in productive projects in Quibdo, Colombia in Dec. 3, 2018.

    Women, who were part of the former FARC, work in productive projects in Quibdo, Colombia in Dec. 3, 2018. | Photo: EFE FILE

Published 5 December 2018

Murders and threats against social leaders and human rights defenders, especially in the rural areas of Colombia, have increased despite the peace agreement signed two years ago.

In the forum "Balance of peace agreements, challenges and opportunities with other insurgencies," which was held in Madrid, Spain, Colombian left-wing Senator Alberto Castilla denounced "the judicialization and the crimes" that are being committed against social leaders of the Latin American country.

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"We were confident that we would see a decrease in the murder rate but it has not happened," the parliamentarian lamented, adding that 173 social leaders have been killed in 2017, especially in the rural areas of the departments of Nariño, Antioquia and Santander.

Colombia signed, more than two years ago, a peace agreement to end a 50-year-old armed conflict that had left some 260,000 people dead. Since then, however, there has been a worsening of the situation for community leaders who defend their territory or rights.

"While it is true that there is a decrease in the direct victims of the armed conflict, the persecution of community leaders has increased," Castilla emphasized, before demanding that the state launch investigations to establish who the responsible parties are.

"This Friday, Dec. 7 we will light a little candle for peace and the implementation of the Peace Agreement in all the cities of Colombia."

According to the senator, the effective implementation of the peace process would not seem to be a concern of Colombia's right-wing President Ivan Duque, who was sworn into office in Aug. 2018.

"Peace is not only the implementation of agreements signed with the FARC, but also [peace implies] guarantees and conditions for society."

There are "quite a few breaches," Castilla stated, regarding the peace agreement

"In rural areas where the absence of the State is coupled with a large presence of organized and illegal armed groups, human rights defenders are an easy target for those who see in them and their agenda an obstacle to their interests,"  Michel Forst, a United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders - who visited Colombia earlier this week - said.

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