Human rights workers, union leaders massacred while Colombia talks peace with FARC
The massacre of Colombian human rights defenders and union leaders continues at an alarming rate, unaffected by peace talks, an Amnesty International investigator said this week.
“The peace talks represent the best opportunity in over a decade to put an end to the 50-year-old armed conflict. However, the warring parties continue to be responsible for appalling serious human rights violations and abuses. These include forced displacement, extrajudicial killings, kidnappings, abductions, and enforced disappearances,” Marcelo Pollack, Amnesty International’s researcher on Colombia stated on the international human rights organization’s webpage.
There were 70 human rights defenders and at least 27 members of trade unions killed in 2013, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ preliminary annual Colombia review.
Pollack said the Colombian government has failed to act in key areas:
* Paramilitary groups have not been dismantled and continue to commit a large share of human rights abuses, despite a near decade-long ‘demobilization’ process.
* Extrajudicial executions have diminished, but not disappeared. And the state of near impunity continues for assassins.
* Guerrilla groups have not been convinced to recognize human rights and continue abuses such as child recruitment, mining land with explosives, and civilian displacement.
* The government has failed to stop the backlash of violence against land restitution claimants. Colombia has almost six million internally displaced persons. The land restitution law of 2012 has been implemented slowly, and the process has been sharply criticized for the lack of protection claimants receive if they attempt to use the law.
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