WASHINGTON, USA – The Mission to Support the Peace Process in Colombia of the Organization of American States (MAPP/OAS) presented to the Permanent Council of the Organization its twenty-eighth semi-annual report, in which it reports the high levels of violence that were carried out by illegal armed groups against communities and social leaders during the second half of 2019.
Roberto Menéndez, chief of the MAPP/OAS, said “the persistence of forced recruitment of children and adolescents is alarming, as well as the installation of antipersonnel mines and improvised explosive devices, kidnapping, sexual violence, confinement and displacement,” which generate profound impacts on indigenous, Afro-descendant and peasant communities.
In 1,200 monitoring missions, the MAPP/OAS verified that continued actions of expansion and territorial control of the illegal armed groups generated damage to the populations of Bajo Atrato, Alto y Medio Baudó, Bajo Cauca, Sur de Córdoba, Sur de Bolívar, Catatumbo, Pacífico Nariñense and in the departaments of Arauca, Antioquia, Cauca, Caquetá, Meta, Guaviare, Valle del Cauca and Putumayo.
The OAS Mission also warned, with great concern, of threats, harassment, stigmatization, forced displacement, and homicides against community and human rights leaders, land claimants, promoters of the substitution of illicit crops and ethnic authorities in territories such as Cauca, Antioquia, Caquetá, Guaviare, Meta, Nariño, Norte de Santander, Valle del Cauca and Chocó. The report indicates that access to land and defense of the territory continue to represent scenarios of risk in the country. In addition, it calls attention to serious damages against ex-combatants in the process of reincorporation.
Against this background, the MAPP/OAS reiterates its demand that the illegal armed groups cease all attacks against the civilian population. It also urges national and local authorities to strengthen coordination of efforts in favor of protection and non-repetition of violence. In addition, it renews its call to the government and the ELN to continue the search for dialogue scenarios.
The MAPP/OAS highlights the positive impacts that the implementation of the Development Programs with a Territorial Focus (PDET) has brought to peace, as well as the activation of the Territorial Peace Councils. Furthermore, it values the sustained arrival of the Integral System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition (SIVJRNR) in the most vulnerable territories.
Since the previous semester, the Mission has observed the persistence of coca leaf cultivation as the main source of livelihood in various municipalities, pressure and incentives from illegal armed groups, challenges regarding the implementation of voluntary replacement plans and confrontations derived from forced eradication. “We insist on the need to advance in the transformation of the territories; also, in the generation of a broad dialogue that decisively addresses all the dimensions of the phenomenon, especially those related to drug activity. This is one of the drivers of violence in Colombia and it must be ended,” said the chief of mission.
Faced with these challenges and the current context of a pandemic, the MAPP/OAS reaffirms its commitment to the communities and institutions to continue advancing towards complete peace in Colombia.