Colombia: Wave of killings of Indigenous people highlights shortcomings in implementation of peace process
The killing of six Indigenous people in the past week raises serious doubts about the effectiveness of the measures implemented by the government to advance the peace process in Colombia, says Amnesty International.
In the past week, six Indigenous people have been killed in the departments of Chocó, Cauca and Nariño, affecting the Wounan, Nasa and Awá Indigenous Peoples, communities who have historically been seriously affected by the armed conflict.
On 19 April, the leader of the Kite Kiwe Indigenous council in Timbío, Cauca, south-eastern Colombia, was killed after being shot repeatedly by a contract killer while leaving a community meeting. Gerson Acosta had been granted protection measures by the National Protection Unit (Unidad Nacional de Protección) due to threats he had received related to his work as a human rights defender.
Several days earlier, on 16 April, Pedro Nel Pai Pascal, Jhonny Marcelo Cuajiboy Pascal and Ever Goyes, members of the Awá Indigenous community, were killed in the department of Nariño.
In addition, in the department of Chocó, the killings of the brothers Anselmo and Dalmiro Cárdenas Victoria, of the Wounan Indigenous community, were reported. They were abducted on Sunday 16 April on the coast of San Juan and found dead on 20 April.
“The situation of extreme risk which Indigenous communities in Colombia face is alarming. These crimes highlight one of the main challenges in the implementation of the peace process: the protection of the communities living in the areas which have been most affected by the armed conflict and the need to guarantee that these deplorable acts do not go unpunished” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.
“The killing of Gerson Acosta is a clear example of the ineffectiveness of the measures implemented by the Colombian authorities to safeguard the life and safety of leaders and members of Indigenous communities. It is time that the Colombian authorities keep their promises and provide adequate protection for the victims of the conflict.”
Colombia now faces a crucial period in terms of the consolidation of the peace agreement signed between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and in terms of the reinforcement of the peace process initiated with the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerillas. However all these efforts will be in vain if immediate measures are not taken to guarantee the protection of the groups which are the most vulnerable and at risk of serious human rights violations.