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Colombia: “staggering number” of killings target human rights activists

According to a recent United Nations (UN) report, human rights activists are being targeted in a “staggering number” of killings. These signify the failure of an existing peace accord aiming to improve conditions in impoverished rural areas.

The intergovernmental organization reports that 107 social activists were murdered last year — a troubling figure that could increase by up to 120 once investigations are finalized. At least 10 human rights defenders were killed in the first couple of weeks this 2020, as per The Guardian.

UN’s high commissioner for human rights office sounded the alarm for these figures. Marta Hurtado, spokeswoman for the department says, “This vicious and endemic cycle of violence and impunity must stop.”

Most of the deaths occurred in poor, rural areas where illegal armed groups operate. Some areas were controlled by the rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in the past. The group agreed and signed to a 2016 peace accord.

Implementation of the accord proved challenging with the UN citing the presence of illegal armed groups along with a military-focused response by the Colombian government.

“We acknowledge some positive steps,” Hurtado said, referring to a recent meeting on security. “However, the number of killings clearly shows much more needs to be done.”

“Peace will not be fully achieved if the brave voices of social leaders continue to be silenced through violence and if former combatants who laid down their weapons and are committed to their reintegration continue to be killed,” UN representative Carlos Ruiz told the organization’s security council on Monday.