Colombia peace deal gives way to rights activists’ killings, UN says


A new U.N. report found that dozens of civil society and human rights activists were killed in Colombia, the BBC reports.

The report coincides with growing concerns that a historic peace deal – once considered a ‘model for resolving armed conflicts’ is confronting serious problems of implementation.

The report is casting a shadow on peace efforts in Colombia, drawing attention to the killings of dozens of rights activists and warning that armed groups are occupying drug territories as the nation’s largest rebel group starts demobilizing, AP adds:

The report released Thursday by the U.N. high commissioner for human rights said 127 activist deaths were counted in 2016, even as Colombia moved toward implementing an historic peace accord. Half of the deaths were of human rights leaders while others were members of leftist political organizations. Many occurred in areas previously occupied by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

“There is a pattern here relative to where the killings are occurring,” said U.N. representative Todd Howland said. “It is a really important moment to consolidate the implementation of the accords.”

Civilians also continue to suffer serious abuses perpetrated by the guerrillas of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), says Human Rights Watch.

The U.S. Department of Labor released a report recently in response to complaints filed by U.S. and Colombian unions detailing systematic labor rights violations in Colombia:

The U.S. government acknowledged many of the serious issues raised in the complaint, including inadequate labor inspections and enforcement actions, abusive forms of subcontracting that prevent union organizing and keep the majority of Colombian workers in precarious jobs, and impunity for threats and violence against trade unionists, which creates a climate of fear.

In the wake of Colombia’s narrow rejection of a peace accord and the subsequent bestowing of the Nobel Peace Prize on the country’s president last October, Colombian trade unions vowed to remain part of the process to end the Western Hemisphere’s longest war and work toward a more inclusive society, the Solidarity Center* reported:

On October 2 and to the disappointment of the Colombian labor movement, citizens narrowly rejected a deal that would have ended 52 years of war. The three national trade union centers—the Central Workers’ Union (CUT), Confederation of Colombian Workers (CTC), General Labor Confederation (CGT)—issued a joint statement reaffirming their “commitment to the peace process” and said the labor movement would continue efforts “to bring about an end to the armed conflict” in the country.

*A core institute of the National Endowment for Democracy, the Washington-based democracy assistance group.

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