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Startseite Urgent Actions 2017 12 Killings of land claimant leaders
UA 268/17
Abgeschlossen am 23. Januar 2018

Killings of land claimant leaders

AI-Index: AMR 23/7588/2017

Two land claimant leaders of collective Afro-descendent territories in Curvaradó, Jiguamiandó, Piedeguita and Mancilla in Chocó have been killed by paramilitary groups belonging to the Gaitanistas Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia, AGC). The inhabitants of these humanitarian zones and areas of biodiversity feel threatened.

On 9 December the human rights NGO Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz, CIJP) reported the killing of Hernán Bedoya, a land claimant leader of the collective territory of Pedeguita Mancilla who had been reporting illegal associations, fraudulent contracts and the presence of paramilitary groups in the region. AGC paramilitaries killed him at around 1.15pm by shooting him 14 times in the village of Playa Roja, in a place known as El Acopio. On 26 November Mario Castaño Bravo, a land claimant leader from Curvaradó, was killed on his own farm, in the Florida area in La Larga Tumaradó territory. Unknown individuals entered his home and shot him repeatedly. Mario Castaño Bravo was overseeing the drafting of a collective reparation proposal which included acknowledgment of the communities as legitimate owners of the collective land and limiting company operations without consultation which threaten the life, land and dignity of the inhabitants.

Both leaders had been granted protection measures by the National Protection Unit (Unidad Nacional de Protección, UNP), which only consisted of bulletproof vests and cell phones. This is proof of the ineffectiveness of the protection measures granted by the Colombian government and National Protection Unit.

According to the Justice and Peace Commission, which has been supporting collective processes in this area of the department of Chocó, these killings were an attempt to destabilize the collective land claim processes in the 13 humanitarian zones and biodiversity areas established to safeguard the return and reparation processes for families who were displaced in the 1990s. The inhabitants of this area fear the repetition of this situation. The humanitarian zones and biodiversity areas have been granted protection measures by the Constitutional Court of Colombia and five of their leaders have been granted precautionary measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), however they, along with many others, continue to be threatened by the activities of the AGC in the area.


The Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz, CIJP)  works together with Indigenous and Afro-descendent communities living in the Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó river basins in the process to reclaim their territory. In these zones, paramilitaries have occupied the land of some Indigenous and Afro-descendent communities since 2005.

In recent years, many of the people who fled their land after being violently displaced by the paramilitary and security forces at the end of the 1990s have returned to the Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó river basin communities. The communities have attempted to defend their right to the land and to stop the expansion of illegal African palm plantations and other economic activity in their territory. As a result, many members of the communities have been threatened or murdered. Despite repeated orders from the Constitutional Court, the land has not been returned to the communities.

In April 2006 the first of many different “Humanitarian Zones” was established. These are clearly marked zones whose inhabitants request that the parties to the conflict respect their decision not to participate in the conflict. They represent a means of protection, and also send the message to the parties to the conflict that their rights as civilians should be respected, demanding the right of the civilian population not to be involved in the conflict.

Since 2015 there have been reports of paramilitary groups making incursions into humanitarian zones and areas of biodiversity in the municipality of Riosucio, stirring up fear among the inhabitants and threatening the leaders of the communities. The office of the Ombudsman has repeatedly issued warnings on the vulnerability of the communities in this area and the risk of further collective displacements. Despite these warnings, the state response has still not been comprehensive nor timely and the residents feel threatened by paramilitary groups.

Name: Hernán Bedoya (m), Mario Castaño Bravo (m) and inhabitants of humanitarian zones and areas of biodiversity in the Department of Chocó.

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