The first week of July 2018 saw a spike in the killings of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) in Colombia, as 9 HRDs and Social leaders were killed over four days. In light of this recent wave of murders, the UN has raised concerns about the nature of HRD killings in Colombia.
In June 2011: Leaders from communities torn apart by Colombia’s internal armed conflict brought their stories to the UK and Ireland at the start of June and told our Governments what they can do to help. ABColombia welcomed community leaders Melida Esther Guevara, from the Afro-Colombian community of Cocomopoca and Jesus Alberto Castilla Salazar, a campesino leader from Catatumbo, and Mgr Hector Fabio Henao Gaviria, Director of the Social Department of the Colombian Bishops’ Conference / Caritas Colombia to the UK and Ireland. 
Universal Periodic Review on Colombia: Briefing and Recommendations
Colombia will engage in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process in May 2018. The UPR is a state-driven human rights review process at the UN Human Rights Council. This mechanism is used to assess the human rights records of all UN Member States. During the UPR process, other UN Member States can make recommendations to the state under review. ABColombia has written a briefing with suggested recommendations that could be made to the Colombian government by the Republic of Ireland.
On 20 December 2017, ABColombia sent a letter to Sir Alan Duncan, UK Minister of State for Europe and the Americas, expressing concerns regarding the situation of human rights defenders (HRDs) in Colombia. In the letter, ABColombia asked the Minister to ensure a statement is made at the UN Security Council regarding the extremely high levels of killings of Colombian HRDs and that the UK strongly requests the Colombian Government to officially invite Michel Forst, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, to Colombia.
On 22 January 2018, Front Line Defenders launched their Annual Report on Human Rights Defenders at Risk in 2017. In this annual report, Front Line Defenders documented cases of HRDs from 27 countries worldwide. The report makes for shocking reading, especially regarding the situation of HRDs in Colombia. It highlights that 80% of the documented killings of HRDs were in just four countries: Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and the Philippines.
Colombian Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have expressed deep concern about Fundamental Rights violations of the Nasa indigenous peoples in Northern Cauca, following increased violent clashes between illegal armed groups on 8 and 9 December 2017.
Following the signing of the Peace Agreement between the FARC Guerrilla and Colombian State, CSOs raised serious concerns regarding the presence of more than ten illegal armed groups in the Northern Cauca region.
De la sociedad civil del departamento del Chocó
Dirigida al Gobierno Nacional y al Ejército de Liberación Nacional -ELN
Civil society activists and ethnic-territorial and social organisations in Chocó have put forward a proposed humanitarian agreement directed at the national Government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) following continued human rights violations.
Los abajo firmantes manifestamos al Estado Colombiano, a los medios de comunicación y a la opinión pública en general, la más profunda preocupación por las nuevas afectaciones a los Derechos Fundamentales del pueblo indígena Nasa en el norte del Cauca, por hechos ocurridos los días 08 y 09 de diciembre de 2017.
A recent confrontation between illegal armed groups followed by a detonation of an explosive device have led to the displacement and evacuation of Indigenous communities in Northern Cauca.
To the Colombian State, the media and public opinion: In light of the incidents on 8 and 9 December 2017, we, the undersigning organisations, express our most profound concern regarding the recent violations of the fundamental rights of the Nasa Indigenous People in Northern Cauca.
La información que arroja esta encuesta en el periodo 2010 – 2015, muestra una prevalencia de violencia sexual contra las mujeres del 18,36% para los 142 municipios con presencia de fuerza pública, guerrilla y paramilitares o BACRIM.1
Encuesta de Prevalencia de Violencia Sexual en Contra de Las Mujeres en El Contexto del Conflicto Armado Colombiano 2010-2015. This publication is currently only available in Spanish
Despite the Colombian Peace Talks and the reduction of combat violence, women have experienced an increased level of conflict-related sexual violence from 149 (2000-2009) to 400 women per day (2010-2015)
In a landmark ruling, the Colombian Constitutional Court adopted an unprecedented ecocentric approach to human rights: the judges recognised Colombia’s Atrato River as a legal entity with environmental rights that need to be protected alongside the communities’ bio-cultural rights.
The Inter-Ethnic Forum, the Indigenous Board and the Dioceses’ of Quibdó, Istmina and Apratadó and many NGOs in Colombia, like ABColombia’s partner, the Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace (Comision Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz) have raised their concerns about the forced displacement of Indigenous Communities across Choco.
According to the Bishop of Quibdó: In Chocó (one department of Colombia) 20 out of the 30 municipalities have been declared in a state of “Alert” due to combats between the ELN Guerrilla and neo-paramilitary groups (BACRIM). This is exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in the department.
On 7 February 2017, the Colombian government and the second largest Guerrilla Group in Colombia, the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional – ELN) initiated the public phase of the Peace Talks, in Quito, Ecuador. Postponed since March 2016, following two years of informal negotiations, because of preconditions set by the Colombian government regarding the release of former Congressman Odín Sánchez Montes de Oca. The path was finally paved for the start of the public stage of the Peace Talks with the release on 2 February this year of Mr.
In the first 23 of January 2017, 11 human rights defenders have been killed. One of those killed was Afro-Colombian human rights defender (HRD) Emilsen Manyoma and her partner Joe Javier Rodallega.
On 17 January 2017, the bodies of Afro-Colombian human rights defender (HRD) Emilsen Manyoma and her partner Joe Javier Rodallega were found in Buenaventura. They had been missing since Saturday 14 January 2017. Just a few days before their disappearance, Rodallega reported being threatened and said a truck had been circling Manyoma’s house (see video below).
Human Rights Defenders at Grave Risk
Grave concerns have risen since the signing of the Peace Agreement for the safety of human rights defenders in Colombia.
Para los defensores y defensoras de derechos humanos (DDH) y las comunidades rurales los riesgos aumentan considerablemente cuando sus derechos territoriales están asociados a intereses económicos como, por ejemplo, el caso de la agricultura y de la industria minera (en particular, la minería y la explotación de petróleo) a gran escala.
Human rights defenders and community leaders killed at unprecedented rate in Colombia, warns human rights group
On 26 September 2016 Colombia will officially sign a Peace Agreement between the Government and the FARC guerrilla group, but a new report by human rights group ABColombia says those crucial to building peace are being killed at an alarming rate.