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Colombia: Civil Society groups urges VP Pence to address Human Rights Defenders crisis

'Civil Society Groups: Pence Must Address Killings of Colombia Human Rights Leaders' 13 Apr 2018

Dear Mr. Vice President: As you prepare for your visit to the Summit of the Americas...we urge you to address the...number of assassinations of social leaders and human rights defenders (HRDs) in Colombia...these killings and abuses pose a grave risk to Colombia’s progress towards peace and stability, even threatening U.S. counter-narcotics efforts and democracy. Since the beginning of 2018, on average a community leader or human rights defender has been killed every 48 hours in Colombia. The country has one of the highest global rates of murder of human rights defenders and journalists and there has been no justice in over 90 percent of these cases.An estimated 30 human rights defenders have been killed just in the past two and a half months; a disproportionate number are indigenous and Afro-Colombian. Threats against these leaders undermine their ability to play a vital accountability role in documenting human rights abuses related to corruption and trafficking. Weakening these communities cedes control to paramilitary forces, narco-traffickers and corrupt elements in Colombia’s security forces, this ultimately undermines Colombia’s fragile peace and over 20 years of U.S. investments to achieve security and stability.