File photo of a march by human rights defenders. EFE-EPA FILE/Luis Eduardo Noriega A.

Colombian authorities have failed to protect human rights defenders, Amnesty says

Bogotá, Nov 9 (EFE).- Colombian authorities have failed to adopt actions to protect human rights defenders at risk, Amnesty International (AI) said in its latest report, calling on the government to rethink its approach in safeguarding the defenders.

In the report “Hope under risk: The lack of a safe space to defend human rights in Colombia continues,” published on Wednesday, Ammnesty said Colombia’s response to human rights violations in the last five years has been inadequate.

“Amnesty International has received countless reports of human rights defenders in Colombia being threatened and attacked because of their work,” said Ana Piquer, Americas director at Amnesty International said in a news briefing published on AI website.

Between 2020 and 2023, AI observed that “the authorities have failed to adopt state actions to guarantee the collective protection of people who defend human rights, in particular, those who defend land, territory and the environment in different areas of the country,” she added.

AI compiled the figures that state agencies and nonprofits have published on the murders of human rights defenders.

According to the We Are Defenders Program nonrpofit, 199 defenders were murdered in 2020, 139 in 2021, and 197 in 2022.

Meanwhile, the Institute of Development and Peace Studies (Indepaz) has documented the murder of 127 social leaders and defenders until September this year.

In th report, AI mentions five cases of attacks and threats against defenders in four regions of the country.

One of the attacks was on Federation of Artisanal, Environmental and Tourist Fishermen of Santander (Fedepesan), an organisation working to protect the environment in Santander, in northern Columbia, whose president was attacked thrice by armed individuals in the last few years.

After its last report in 2020, which had noted that Government’s failed policies are risking human rights defenders, in the current report AI has analysed the situation in Columbia between 2020 and 2023 in two parts.

At the end of the term of Iván Duque, who was president between 2018 and 2022, there were “no signs of a consistent human-rights based plan to address the structural causes of violence.”

Moreover, the government “failed to continue with the collective protection measures for defenders and communities” that had already been created in the framework of a peace agreement signed by the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army guerrilla group in 2018.

Meanwhile, President Gustavo Petro’s government, elected in August 2022, recognized the crisis of violence against human rights defenders and took new initiatives to resolve the issue, the AI report said.

However, “despite all the good intentions and the creation of a plan that could potentially mitigate the situation institutional shortcomings have resulted in a failure to bring about significant changes in the lives of people and communities,” it added.

“The Colombian authorities must adopt collective protection measures in order to address the structural causes of the dangers faced by defenders and their communities,” Piquer said.

“Upon mitigating the structural causes, not only will they be protected but their other rights will be guaranteed. We welcome the government’s announcement to strengthen the strategy to adopt collective protection plans in recent months, but we ask that state intervention be complete, comprehensive and coordinated.” she added. EFE