Human Rights Watch Warns About Colombia Killings (E)
Human Rights Watch 2016 country reports issues a warning about the killings of peasant and indigenous leaders. The document, which covers events up to September 2016, praises the peace treaty with FARC as a highly positive development, but states that violations of human rights are still a threat in Colombia.
Civilians in Colombia continue to suffer serious abuses perpetrated by guerrillas, as well as by successor groups to paramilitaries that emerged after an official paramilitary demobilization process a decade ago. Violence associated with Colombia’s internal armed conflict has forcibly displaced more than 6.8 million Colombians, generating the world’s second largest population of internally displaced persons (IDPs) after Syria. Human rights defenders, trade unionists, journalists, indigenous and Afro-Colombian leaders, and other community activists face death threats and violence, but perpetrators are rarely held accountable.
The Colombian government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas have engaged in peace talks in Cuba since 2012, and at time of writing had reached an agreement on four of the six items on their negotiating agenda. In June, the government and FARC agreed to create a “Truth Commission” to carry out non-judicial investigations of gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law committed during the conflict. In September, the government and FARC announced an agreement that would create a new Peace Tribunal to try those responsible for gross human rights violations committed during the armed conflict. Under the agreement, those responsible for crimes against humanity and serious war crimes who cooperate with the new judicial system and confess their crimes would spend between five and eight years under “effective restraint of liberty” but face no prison time. Exploratory talks between the government and National Liberation Army (ELN), Colombia’s second largest guerrilla group, continued at time of writing.