PBI Colombia has published its annual report, in which it highlights its efforts to respond to a changing and demanding context, shaped by the final months of peace negotiations in Havana between the Colombian government and the FARC.
In 2016, PBI Colombia was able to provide 1,037 days of physical accompaniment. For example, PBI’s Bogotá team carried out weekly visits to the offices of the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyer’s Collective (CCAJAR), in addition to its regular meetings. It accompanied CCAJAR’s lawyer Eduardo Carreño fifteen times to court hearings in Bucaramanga, Medellín, Cali, and Bugo. CCAJAR was also accompanied by PBI during the inquest hearing for the Massacre of Trujillo and during several training workshops on human rights.
However, the increase in attacks and murders of defenders in 2016 demonstrates that the security situation is deteriorating in Colombia. Throughout the year, three waves of violence took place, identified by assassinations and attacks against human rights defenders, opposition leaders, and social leaders. In total, 85 human rights defenders were murdered in 2016.
In the report, four focal areas are highlighted: threats against land rights leaders, human rights violations caused by economic interests, concern for high levels of impunity, and informing the international community of the threats to people who dedicate themselves to defending human rights and building a lasting and sustainable peace.
The report emphasises that the post-agreement context in Colombia presents new challenges and risks for the communities and organisations it accompanies, and expresses it concerns about the possibility of diminishing political attention from the international community for the human rights situation in the country and the gradual fall in financial support hereof. As stated, “we must not fall prey to the illusion that Colombia has become a place where defending human rights is guaranteed, now that the Government and FARC have signed an agreement. The figures, reports and testimonies point to a very different reality, one where people who advocate for building a sustainable peace with social justice, more than ever, need the support of the international community in terms of protection, raising awareness and funding”.