Killings of Colombian community leaders hit 145 in 2021, ombudsman says


BOGOTA, January 18 (Reuters)A community activist was killed in Colombia every 60 hours last year, the country’s human rights ombudsman has said, amid attacks by illegal armed groups.

In 2021, 145 social leaders – a broad term used in Colombia to refer to human rights defenders, community leaders and environmentalists, among others – were killed, ombudsman Carlos Camargo said in a statement late Monday. .

The number of murders was down from 182 in 2020.

Violence against social leaders has become a defining challenge for President Ivan Duque’s government amid international criticism and demands it do more to stop the killings.

“We are deeply saddened by each case, because of the impact they have on communities,” Camargo said.

The number of murders of community leaders in Colombia varies widely depending on the source.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) announced last week that it had confirmed 78 killings of human rights defenders in 2021, while local advocacy group Indepaz counted 171. .

The government accuses left-wing National Liberation Army guerrillas, former members of the FARC rebels who reject a 2016 peace accord, and criminal groups, including some made up of former right-wing paramilitaries, of attacking activists as they seek to control the drug trade. illegal mining networks and areas.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta Writing by Oliver Griffin Editing by Paul Simao)

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