Colombia’s armed conflict escalated during protests

The more than half-century armed conflict that cost Colombia so much to leave behind escalated in several areas during protests against Iván Duque’s government, which subsided after two months. The so-called national strike and the treatment of social protest have generated risks that affect the work of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) and the entire transitional justice system resulting from the peace agreement sealed there is more than four years with the The extinct guerrillas of the FARC warned the tribunal charged with trying the most serious crimes of the war.

Despite the disarmament of what was the most powerful guerrilla in America, which became the political party of the Communes, more than four years ago, the report sounds the alarm bells on the reappearance of phenomena of violence that we have seen. believed overcome. Between April 28, the day the protests against the government began, and May 30, events related to the armed conflict and the effects of civilians increased in 111 municipalities of interest to the renamed Comprehensive Peace System, which includes the JEP, the Truth Commission, which is due to submit its final report this year, and the Unit for Tracing Missing Persons.

“In 2021 there are a total of 13 conflict events and 89 civilian assignments, of these there is an increase of over 400% as there have been an average of 18 civilian assignments in previous years. Witness the increase in death threats, killings of former FARC-EP combatants, and massive forced displacement events ”, warns the most recent report risk monitoring unit of the investigation and accusation unit of the JEP.

Within the framework of the demonstrations, up to 16 events affected social organizations that intervene with the entities of the Integral System for Peace, such as the Indigenous Regional Council of Cauca, among others, mainly in the departments of Valle del Cauca and Cauca , on the Pacific platform, where the situation was most out of control. This increased security risk could end up hampering the effective participation of these organizations in the Global System for Peace – heretofore known as the Global System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition.

The report also warns of a phenomenon that has raised concern amid the social explosion: self-defense and paramilitary practices allegedly eradicated in an attempt to frighten protesters. “On the occasion of the national strike, there is evidence in at least 27 towns of the emergence of ‘armed civilian groups’ claiming these practices,” the report said.

The paramilitaries, who were largely demobilized by the state between 2003 and 2005, have in the past been responsible for heinous crimes such as genocide, enforced disappearances, torture or sexual violence. “That there are signs of reactivation of groups which legitimize speeches and actions of the paramilitary type is worrying because it shows the setbacks of the State in terms of recovering the monopoly of the legitimate use of violence”, underline the final considerations of the document.

Despite the peace agreement with the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the civilian population is under attack from other armed groups and phenomena such as displacement of communities, disappearances or the recruitment of minors persist in several regions. The coronavirus pandemic had already led to an increase in violence in remote places, as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had pointed out before the social explosion. “As an indirect effect of the national strike, the public force gave priority to its human and operational resources to attend the demonstration in the cities, leaving gaps in the rural and peripheral areas”, has just warned the JEP report.

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