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

May 20, 2021 • Press Release

The U.S. Must Stop Providing Weapons Used to Repress Colombia’s Protests

In light of verified visual evidence by Amnesty International that United States weapons and equipment are being misused to commit human rights violations against protesters in Colombia, the human rights …

December 10, 2020 • Press Release

Abuse of Protesters and Prisoners Highlights Urgent Need to Regulate Torture Tools

The world must act urgently to prohibit the global trade in equipment designed to inflict excruciating pain and injury, Amnesty International and the Omega Research Foundation said today, ahead of a high-level UN meeting on the ‘torture trade’. In a new report, Ending the Torture Trade: The Path to Global Controls on the ‘Tools of Torture’, the organizations also called for controls on standard policing equipment to ensure it does not end up in the hands of abusers.

March 27, 2020 • Press Release

Measures against COVID-19 in Colombia must not be an excuse for neglecting the protection of human rights defenders

The Colombian state must not use measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to weaken or withdraw protection for human rights defenders and social leaders, Amnesty International …

March 3, 2020 • Press Release

Decision Not to Decriminalize Abortion in Colombia is a Missed Opportunity

The decision by the Constitutional Court of Colombia not to take action to decriminalize abortion represents a missed opportunity for the realization of the sexual and reproductive rights of women and other people who can become pregnant in the country, said Amnesty International.

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 …

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 …

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 …

URGENT: Children seeking asylum in the U.S. are being denied their human rights based on their nationality — help ensure that all girls and boys fleeing violence can seek safety.