BOGOTA – The European Union, together with Norway and Switzerland, have expressed their concern about social leaders and human rights defenders being attacked and murdered in Colombia, the EU reported Tuesday.
“At this time it is essential that defenders of human rights be heard and that the right to political participation be guaranteed,” the EU said.
According to data from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, cited in the report, attacks against human rights defenders in Colombia shot up 30 percent last year.
According to the NGO Somos Defensores (We Are Defenders), at least 106 social leaders and human rights defenders were slain in 2017, which signified a 32.5 percent increase over 2016.
Meanwhile, the Public Defender’s Office recorded between January 2016 and Feb. 27 of this year a total of 282 murders of social leaders and human rights defenders in the country.
In 2016 the office said that 134 victims in the same two categories suffered violent deaths, while 126 mortal victims were recorded last year, and so far this year there have been 22 homicides.
For that reason, the European Union urged the Colombian government to continue to guarantee “effective protection” for social leaders, with “particular attention to collective and community protection.”
“The fight against impunity, together with rigorous contextual investigations, are vital elements for ending attacks on social leaders and human rights defenders,” the report said
At the same time, the European Union said the work of social leaders is basic to its human rights strategy, for which it offered its collaboration to Colombian social organizations and institutions of public defenders.