Updated 04:09 PM EST, Mon, Nov 23, 2020

Colombia the Most Dangerous Place for Human Rights Defenders?

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Colombia is the most dangerous country for human rights defenders, with a massive proportion killed worldwide.

According to Frontline Defenders, a group that keeps track of various human rights advocates, 156 defenders were either killed or died in detention in the world in the first 11 months of 2015, and Colombia amounts to over a third of these numbers with 54. Coming in close second is the Philippines, with 31 HRDs killed.

While the numbers don't seem to be terrifying, no other country comes close to these digits.

The number of HRD deaths in Colombia amounted to 60% in Latin America, where a total of 87 were killed in the past year. Brazil, second in Lat Am numbers, didn't even come close, with only 9 HRDs killed.

There seems to be a pattern in the deaths linked to HRDs. For one, Colombia and the Philippines, which ranked most dangerous in the world for defenders, are both close US allies.

The most dangerous countries in Latin America ---Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala are also close with their US allies, while the superpower's big adversaries in the region -- Cuba and Venezuela -- account for none of the killings, and were not even mentioned in the Frontline report.

Of course, this isn't a new trend. The Huffington Post noted that Noam Chomsky wrote in 1998 about the violence resulting from secondary correlation between aid and violations of human rights. It stood true then, and it still proves true now.

Consider the current situation in Colombia, for instance. Today, the investment opportunities for multi-national corporations have lead to a lot of violence, especially considering that those fighting their government and other anti-human rights corporations are "environmental, indigenous peoples' and land rights defenders" who are most likely to oppose the "so-called 'mega-projects,' especially those being developed by mining companies, and their work involved speaking out about the negative impact of business activities and the lack of proper prior consultation with affected communities."

But these indigenous and environmental groups are not the only victims to human rights abuse. The Peninsula noted that LGBTI members are also included, and they are all persecuted and harrassed with deatht threats, arbitrary detention, physical attacks, police brutality, and even trespassing in their homes and offices.

Frontline Defenders said, "Defending human rights in Latin America remained extremely dangerous and the criminalization of the defense of human rights and peaceful protest movements persisted. The most worrying issue remained extreme violence."

Mary Lawlor, head of the group added, "Human rights defenders face increasingly restrictive and brutal environments in every region of the globe. Extreme violence is being used more frequently and in more countries, while fabricated prosecutions and unfair trials have become the norm in many parts of the world."

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