Civilians in Colombia continue to suffer serious abuses perpetrated by guerrillas, as well as by paramilitary successor groups that emerged after an official paramilitary demobilization process a decade ago. Violence associated with Colombia’s internal armed conflict have forcibly displaced more than 5.7 million Colombians, and upward of 200,000 continue to flee their homes each year, generating the world’s second largest population of internally displaced persons (IDPs). Human rights defenders, trade unionists, journalists, indigenous and Afro-Colombian leaders, and other community activists face death threats and violence. The administration of President Juan Manuel Santos consistently condemns these attacks, but lack of effective investigations means perpetrators are rarely arrested.
The Santos administration continues to promote several bills that would undercut accountability for unlawful killings of civilians by the military, including so-called false positive killings. The proposed legislation creates a serious risk that such cases will be transferred from the civilian to the military justice system, which lacks independence and has a very poor record investigating human rights violations.