March 2, 2021

Defensoría assures that 983 Colombian social leaders are threatened

The Colombian ombudsman, Carlos Negret, said Wednesday that 983 social leaders are "threatened with death" in the country and that in almost 50% of cases the victims are women.

When installing the Bureau for the Protection of Women's Life in Cali (southwest), Negret indicated that it is necessary "to believe in what the threatening pamphlets say, which can not be ignored".

Among the figures delivered by the Ombudsman's Office in the event, it is highlighted that between March 2018 and May 2019 some 480 social leaders or human rights defenders were attacked.

According to the agency, these events occurred after an early warning was launched, a mechanism whereby the entity collects, verifies and analyzes technically the information related to situations of vulnerability and risk of the civilian population as a consequence of the armed conflict.

These warnings also seek to warn the authorities to coordinate timely actions in order to protect the communities.

Of the 480 cases against women reported in the period analyzed, 447 were threats, 20 murders and 13 attacks.

"This is the niche in which we must work to implement early warnings," said the defender.

Negret's complaint was heard on the same day that the Colombian Attorney General's Office (Ministerio Público) ordered the suspension for three months of the mayor of the Caribbean municipality of Tierralta, Fabio Leonardo Otero, in an investigation for alleged irregularities in the control of public order in front of a case that resulted in the murder of the social leader María del Pilar Hurtado on June 21.

The suspension is part of a disciplinary investigation "for alleged irregularities in the control of public order that would be related to the invasion of some lots and that would have resulted in the killing" of Hurtado, the Attorney General said in a statement.

The murder of the woman, of 34 years, shook to Colombia by the shouts of its son in front of the corpse of its mother who were recorded in a video later spread in the social networks.

Previously, the Ombudsman's Office reported that at least 462 social leaders were murdered from January 1, 2016 to February 28.

Likewise, a report by the NGO Institute of Studies on Peace and Development (Indepaz) and the political movement March Patriotic maintains that there are already more than 700 social leaders and 135 ex-combatants of the FARC assassinated since 2016, year in which the agreement was signed of peace with the old guerrilla.

Faced with these facts, the NGO Somos Defensores has also been pronounced, according to which the murders of human rights defenders and social leaders in Colombia increased by almost 50% in 2018 amid impunity, since in three out of four cases even the authorship of the crime is established.

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