The armed conflict in Colombia intensified during the protests

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The armed conflict of more than half a century that has cost Colombia so much to leave behind worsened in several regions during the protests against the government of Iván Duque, which subsided after two months. The so-called national strike and the treatment given to social protest has generated risks that affect the work of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) and the entire transitional justice system that emerged from the peace agreement sealed more than four years ago with the The extinct FARC guerrilla has warned the court in charge of trying the most serious crimes of the war.

Despite the disarmament of what was the most powerful guerrilla in America, now turned into the Comunes political party, more than four years ago, the report raises the alarm about the reappearance of phenomena of violence that were believed to have been overcome. Between April 28, the day the protests against the Government began, and on May 30, events related to the armed conflict and the effects of civilians increased in 111 municipalities of interest to the renamed Comprehensive System for Peace , which includes the JEP, the Truth Commission, which this year must deliver its final report, and the Unit for the Search for Persons Considered Missing.

“In 2021 there is a total record of 13 conflict events and 89 civilian affectations, of the latter there is an increase of more than 400% since on average there were 18 civilian affectations in previous years. This is evidenced by the increase in death threats, homicides of former FARC-EP combatants, and massive events of forced displacement, ”warns the most recent report risk monitoring unit of the Investigation and Accusation Unit of the JEP.

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Within the framework of the demonstrations, up to 16 events have affected social organizations that intervene before the entities of the Integral System for Peace, such as the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, among others, mainly in the departments of Valle del Cauca and Cauca, on the Pacific platform, where the situation has been most out of control. This increase in security risks may end up obstructing the effective participation of these organizations in the Comprehensive System for Peace – until now known as the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition.

The report also warns about a phenomenon that has caused concern in the midst of the social outbreak: self-defense and paramilitary practices that were believed to have been eradicated with the purpose of frightening the protesters. “On the occasion of the national strike there is evidence in at least 27 cities about the emergence of ‘groups of armed civilians’ who claim these practices,” the report says.

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

Despite the peace agreement with the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the civilian population suffers the attacks of other armed groups and phenomena such as community displacement, disappearances or the recruitment of minors persist in several regions. The coronavirus pandemic had already brought an increase in violence in remote places, as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had pointed out before the social outbreak. “As an indirect effect of the national strike, the Public Force has prioritized its human and operational resources in attending to the protest in the cities, leaving gaps in rural and peripheral areas,” the JEP report has now come to warn.

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