Several Colombian ministries, including defense, along with the National Police say the government needs to do more to protect social leaders before upcoming elections.
Colombian social leaders ought to be better protected, especially in light of upcoming regional elections set to be held Oct. 27, 2019, Attorney General Director Fernando Carrillo said Friday.
The attorney general’s office is requesting the National Security Guarantees Commission (CNGS) consolidate strategies and create a list of candidates who could be considered social leaders per the Special Committee for the Implementation of Electoral Protection Measures.
Carrillo also recommended the state activate its Special Protection Procedures for Candidates and calculate the necessary resources, strategies, specific actions in order to protect human rights defenders and social leaders who are running in the upcoming polls. The top lawyer suggested priority be given to those candidate whose affiliation with certain organizations could put them at a higher risk.
The ministries of interior and defense, the National Protection Unit (UNP), the National Police and the nation's ombudsman's office say they support such measures.
The first step, the Carrillo said in a statement, was to “define and immediately implement a temporary system of communication and dialogue with the candidates, as well as a specialized service line for complaints and reports specifically related to electoral proselytism and the possible effects on the exercise of social leadership. "
Last week, the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) declared an “emergency situation” over the continuous slaughter of Indigenous people and rural leaders who are trying to regain political control and access to land in areas once protected by the now disarmed FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).
Since the signing of the peace treaty in 2016, at least 158 Indigenous leaders have been killed, 94 since last year alone. Over 700 social leaders and 138 ex-FARC fighters have also been murdered over the last three years, primarily by paramilitaries working on behalf of cartels and organized crime units.