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News > Latin America

Colombian State Liable to Pay US$70 Million to Social Leaders

  • Earlier in July Colombians held nationwide vigils to protest the murder of social leaders in the country.

    Earlier in July Colombians held nationwide vigils to protest the murder of social leaders in the country. | Photo: EFE

Published 24 July 2018

According to Colombia’s Office of the Comptroller General, 105 lawsuits have been presented by social leaders against the state for failing to offer protection.

Social leaders have presented according to Colombia's Office of the Comptroller General 105 lawsuits against the state for failing to offer protection.

Report: Colombian Authorities Complicit in 'Systematic' Violence Against Social Leaders

A report by the Comptroller General shows that between 2012 and July 2018 “105 lawsuits have been presented by leaders and defenders who were denied protections or lost their protection schemes, which amount to US$70.8 million.”

Edgardo Maya, the comptroller general, recognized the government’s effort to stop these criminal acts but argued these measures weren't sufficient.

“Although the National Unit for Protection has undertaken a great effort to protect the life of threatened social leaders, real state policy is required,” Maya said.

The report argues “the office of the comptroller considers there are multiple factors linked in the continued violations of the right to life and integrity of the threatened population, which demand the current mechanism of individual schemes to advance in prevention, territorial control and judicialization of the perpetrators.”

The murder and targeting of social leaders in Colombia have sparked outrage in the country’s urban centers and around the world. Earlier this month, worldwide vigils were held to demand state action.

Colombian authorities have documented the murder of 178 communal leaders and rights defenders since the peace agreements between the Colombian government, and the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were signed in 2016.

However, the Institute of Studies for Development and Peace estimated that number at 385 until May. Dozens more have been reported, including the murder of Juan de Jesus Moreno, a 38-year-old teacher, who was killed in his classroom in Curillo on July 16, and of Ana Maria Cortes, a social leader and the coordinator of Gustavo Petro’s presidential campaign in the city of Caceres on July 4.

The report also explains that since the peace agreements were signed 232 former FARC members have requested state protection. Only 161 of these petitions were approved, of which only 123 have been implemented.  

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