UN: 78 human rights activists killed in Colombia during 2021

i24NEWS - Reuters

3 min read
Artist perform during Human Rights Day in Medellin, Antioquia department, Colombia on December 10, 2021.
JOAQUIN SARMIENTO/AFPArtist perform during Human Rights Day in Medellin, Antioquia department, Colombia on December 10, 2021.

Human Rights Watch says 'activists face pervasive death threats and violence'

On Thursday, the United Nations confirmed at least 78 human rights activists were killed in Colombia throughout last year.

The UN’s human rights agency, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said 202 claims of murdered human rights advocates were reported to the office in 2021.

OHCHR was able to verify 78 of these cases as instances of murder, with 39 cases still pending and 85 declared inconclusive.

Colombia is widely considered by rights groups to be one of the most dangerous countries for activists, where “human rights defenders, journalists, indigenous and Afro-Colombian leaders, and other community activists face pervasive death threats and violence,” according to Human Rights Watch.

The country’s government attributed the deaths of rights leaders to rebels from the National Liberation Army, FARC dissidents, and criminal organizations within the state.

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A number of environmental activists are also targeted for their work in Colombia - the country was declared the most dangerous state for such defenders in both 2019 and 2020, according to human rights group Global Witness.

In December, Colombia launched a new strategy to combat environmental crimes in the state, deploying a task force of 100 police officers to crack down on ecological offenses.

The government also declared the launch of a new ministry webpage which would allow at-risk environmental activists to contact the government.

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