Washington Office on Latin America
During its first year in office, the Santos administration has differentiated itself from the prior administration by changing its rhetoric and attitude on human rights.
The Santos administration reinstated dialogue with human rights groups and passed important legislation to repair the rights of the victims of the internal armed conflict. In spite of these changes, the security of human rights defenders, trade unionists, Afro-Colombians, indigenous peoples, and displaced leaders remains grave. Reports of abuses perpetrated by the paramilitary groups, guerrillas and the Colombian armed forces continue, and impunity for these crimes remains the norm.
The U.S. Office on Colombia and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) released a report today that assesses President Santos’s first year in office and his administration’s actions on key human rights concerns. The report offers analysis on the topics of extrajudicial executions, human rights defenders, Afro-Colombians, indigenous peoples, internal displacement, the Victims Law and sexual violence against women. It concludes that while the Santos administration offers an important political opportunity to strengthen the human rights agenda in the country, it also faces great obstacles in effectively translating better discourse into effective actions.
Much more action is needed from the Colombian government to effectively guarantee human rights, the territorial rights of ethnic minorities, dismantle paramilitary successor groups, and reduce impunity. At this time, Colombia is in great need of added international monitoring and support so that it can overcome the great obstacles it faces in addressing systematic human rights issues and move forward in implementing a sound human rights policy. Resolute political will and strategic support from the international community will help Colombia move forward in its path towards justice, peace and reconciliation.
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