Colombia Human Rights

Colombians suffer a dire human rights situation due to the country’s 45-year-old internal armed conflict. Leftist guerrillas fight the state and illegal right-wing paramilitary organizations, which often collaborate with sectors of the Colombian armed forces. All of the parties to the conflict are responsible for human rights violations. Armed opposition groups, including the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and the ELN (National Liberation Army) have committed numerous violations of international humanitarian law, including high-profile kidnappings. Colombia’s paramilitary groups, which have sown terror across Colombia for decades, were supposedly demobilized in a process initiated in 2003 by the previous administration of President Álvaro Uribe, but many such groups continue to operate in many parts of the country. The Colombian government routinely fails to bring to justice military officials who have collaborated with these illegal paramilitary groups as they carry out atrocities or even participate in civilian killings.

General Country Conditions

After two terms (for which he had to change the constitution) served by President Alvaro Uribe, Uribe’s former Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos took office in August 2010. Amnesty International believes that one of Santos’ biggest and most important challenges is to ensure an independent judiciary system, allowing it to bring to justice those responsible for human rights abuses committed during the country’s long-running armed conflict. During Uribe’s tenure Amnesty International documented no substantive improvement in the human rights situation. In fact, AI has documented worsening in human rights conditions in several conflict zones, and that collusion between the armed forces and illegal paramilitary groups continues.

Human rights defenders, women, farmers, unionists, indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities among others face constant threats to their security. In rural communities, these individuals are often terrorized by guerillas and paramilitaries alike. They are forced to choose between supporting one of the armed groups for protection, or fleeing to the relative safety of urban areas where they add to the mass of urban unemployed and under-employed, swelling the ranks of the desplazados (displaced persons). As a result, between 3 and 5 million Colombians live as internal refugees.

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Despite this grave situation, Colombia has a host of active community leaders, peace activists and human rights defenders who are bravely working toward a peaceful end to the conflict. These individuals face constant threats and have been subject to torture and murder, and many have been forced to leave the country. Your work can help to provide greater security for these human rights defenders and for all Colombians.

Colombia Newsroom

February 27, 2020 • Report

Countries cracked down on asylum and the right to protest in the Americas in 2019

As millions took to the streets to protest rampant violence, inequality, corruption and impunity, or were forced to flee their countries in search of safety, states across the Americas clamped …

November 22, 2017 • Report

The Years of Solitude Continue

A year on from the signing of the peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC), other guerrilla and paramilitary groups are wrestling for control of parts of the country in conflicts that are wreaking havoc on the lives of ordinary Colombians, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

February 18, 2016 • Report

Amnesty International State of the World 2015-2016

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

November 5, 2015 • Report

Colombia: Restoring the Land, Securing the Peace

The Colombian government must prioritize the right of Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities to decide how their land is developed above companies’ desire to exploit those territories for profit, said Amnesty International in a new report today.

February 25, 2015 • Report

State of the World 2014/2015

This has been a devastating year for those seeking to stand up for human rights and for those caught up in the suffering of war zones. Governments pay lip service to the importance of protecting civilians. And yet the world's politicians have miserably failed to protect those in greatest need. Amnesty International believes that this can and must finally change.

May 17, 2013 • Report

Annual Report: Colombia 2013

Republic of Colombia Head of state and government Juan Manuel Santos Calderón Formal peace talks between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) began in Norway in …

October 4, 2012 • Report

Hidden from Justice: Impunity for Conflict-related Sexual Violence in Colombia

Amnesty returns to Colombia to ensure the rights of women and girls in Colombia to freedom from violence and to justice.

September 20, 2011 • Report

Colombian authorities fail survivors of sexual violence

Sexual violence is endemic to Colombia's long-running armed conflict. Members of all the warring parties have sexually abused and exploited women and girls. This document focuses on the deeply-entrenched impunity that has for so long shielded from justice human rights abusers of all kinds in Colombia. This report examines what, if any, progress has been made by the authorities, particularly since 2008, in addressing sexual violence and impunity.

June 30, 2011 • Report

Annual Report: Colombia 2011

Head of state and government: Juan Manuel Santos Calderón (replaced Álvaro Uribe Vélez in August) Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes Population: 46.3 million Life expectancy: 73.4 years Under-5 mortality …

June 15, 2011 • Report

Annual Report: Colombia 2011

Head of state and government: Juan Manuel Santos Calderón (replaced Álvaro Uribe Vélez in August) Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes Population: 46.3 million Life expectancy: 73.4 years Under-5 mortality …