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

July 9, 2018 • Press Release

Colombia: Killings of human rights defenders continue under a cloak of impunity and the silent complicity of the state

Colombia faces a grave human rights crisis as a result of repeated targeted killings of human rights defenders, while the authorities look on unperturbed, Amnesty International said today.

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.

December 1, 2016 • Press Release

Colombia: Peace agreement must open the door to justice

The ratification of the peace agreement marks the beginning of a new and hopeful chapter in Colombia’s history, but the real hard work starts now, Amnesty International said today. Last night, Congress ratified a revised version of the peace agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) after the original …

October 7, 2016 • Press Release

Nobel Peace Prize shows Colombia must not close the door on hopes for peace with justice

Today’s awarding of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos underscores the expectation that Colombians will persevere in their search for peace with justice, Amnesty International said.

September 27, 2016 • Press Release

Colombia: Historic peace deal must ensure justice and an end to human rights abuses

The success of an historic peace deal between the Colombian government and the country’s largest guerilla group, which was officially signed today in Cartagena, rests on the Colombian authorities’ ability to ensure truth, justice and reparation for the millions of victims of the more than 50 year-long conflict, said Amnesty International. The peace agreement will …

August 25, 2016 • Press Release

Colombia: End of negotiations over conflict brings hopes of peace

The announcement that the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have reached a deal to end the five decade-old armed conflict is a momentous and long-awaited development that brings hope that peace will at last be possible, said Amnesty International.

June 26, 2016 • Press Release

Colombia: Agreement on a bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities is an historic step forward

The agreement on a definitive bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, signed today in Cuba by the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), is an historic step in efforts towards signing a peace deal between the two sides, Amnesty International said today.

June 6, 2016 • Press Release

Security forces must refrain from excessive use of force during rural protests in Colombia

The Colombian authorities must ensure that the security forces, in particular the ESMAD anti-riot police, refrain from using disproportionate and excessive force against demonstrators, Amnesty International said today as a nationwide protest by rural communities enters its second week.

March 30, 2016 • Press Release

Colombia: Peace talks with ELN must not allow human rights abuses to go unpunished

Justice for the many victims of human rights abuses and violations amid Colombia’s five-decade armed conflict must lie at the heart of peace talks announced today between the government and the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN), Amnesty International said.

February 22, 2016 • Press Release

Amnesty International’s Annual State of the World Report Slams Governments, Including the U.S., for Global Assault on Freedoms

On the launch of its 2015 State of the World report, Amnesty International USA urged President Obama to use his last year in office to bring U.S. laws and policies in line with international human rights standards.

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