Colombia has topped a list for the number of human rights campaigners killed in the first 11 months of 2015, according to a recent annual report by Dublin-based Front Line Defenders.
Fifty-four campaigners died in Colombia, the highest number from an analysis of 25 countries, for the second year running.
A total of 156 people worldwide were assassinated or died in detention, of which 87 were in Latin America.
The report highlights the nature of risk experienced by human rights workers. Activists have been kidnapped and threatened. Their family members have been targeted and there is concern about the use of surveillance technology and the adoption of restrictive legislation.
Jim Loughran, Head of Media and Communications at Front Line Defenders, explains: “The problem in Colombia is that despite the success of the peace process there is still a climate of impunity for attacks on human rights defenders. The administration of President Juan Manuel Santos consistently condemns these attacks, but lack of effective investigations means perpetrators are rarely arrested.”
He continues: “Front line Defenders has one simple message to the government of Colombia – stop the killings.”
Meanwhile, the National Police trumpeted an ‘historic year’ in their annual review, saying that homicides in 2015 had reached the lowest in 35 years. Countrywide homicides were down five percent from 13,200 in 2014 to 12,540 (25.5 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants) and seizures of cocaine were up 87%.