Colombian authorities are reporting that president of the Action Committee of the Municipality of Alamos, Juan Mena, has been murdered in Quibdo, Choco.
Mena was killed, while walking in public, by armed men who approached and shot him multiple times. The identities of the gunmen – who hastily fled the scene of the crime and remain at large – are still unknown.
According to El Heraldo, Mena had left Choco following death threats a few weeks ago and had only just returned to the area, several days before he was killed.
Henry Cuesta Cordoba, a representative of the Public Prosecutor's Office, expressed concern over the increase in violent deaths in the region following the death of the social leader.
“Juan Mena was a merchant and president of the Action Budget of Los Alamos and I worked for the community of Quibdo, which is a matter of great concern because murders have increased in Quibdo,” Cordoba said.
Investigations are underway into the reported death threats and to uncover any possible motive for the crime or evidence which may unearth the men who are responsible for the murder of the activist.
Statistics from the Institute for Development and Peace stated that at least one dozen social leaders and human rights activists were murdered last year in Choco – trailing only Cauca, Narino, Antioquia and Valle del Cauca departments. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also expressed concern over the increase in murders of human rights activists.
The Public Prosecutor's Office records disclosed 441 attacks, including 121 murders: 84 human rights defenders, 23 members of social and political movements and 14 people killed during demonstrations which took place in 2017.