January 20, 2022, 2:17

    About 80 rights defenders killed in Colombia in 2021 – UN

    About 80 rights defenders killed in Colombia in 2021 – UN

    BOGOTA, Jan 13 (Reuters) – At least 78 human rights defenders were killed in Colombia in 2021, the United Nations human rights agency said on Thursday.

    Violence against human rights and environmental defenders, as well as community activists – known collectively in Colombia as social leaders – has become a big challenge for President Ivan Duque's government amid international criticism and demands more be done to stop the killings.

    The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said it received 202 accusations of killings of human rights leaders in Colombia last year. Of these 78 were confirmed as killed, 39 cases were still being verified, and 85 were inconclusive.

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    In a similar report published in March 2021, the OHCHR documented 53 killings of human rights defenders, as well as 80 other cases that were still to be verified. It was unclear how many of those 80 cases had been verified or ruled out since the report in 2021 was published.

    The government accuses left-wing guerrillas from the National Liberation Army, ex-members of the FARC rebels who reject a 2016 peace deal, and criminal groups, some comprised of former right-wing paramilitaries, of attacking activists as they seek control of drug trafficking and illegal mining areas.

    Local human rights group Indepaz found that 171 social leaders were killed last year, while international advocacy organization Human Rights Watch reported in a separate report on Thursday that 500 human rights defenders had been assassinated since 2016.

    Colombia is also renowned for the danger faced by land and environmental defenders. For two years in a row, in 2019 and 2020, Colombia was the most dangerous country in the world for such activists, according to Global Witness. read more

    Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.comRegisterReporting by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Angus MacSwan

    Sourse: reuters.com

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