Yet another Colombian human rights defender has been murdered after a violent group attacked him in the Cauca region, amid the ongoing outcry by activists over the crisis of fatal violence against social leaders and calls for the government to ensure security and protection from paramilitary groups in the country.
Eider Cuetia Conda, coordinator of organization Campesino Security, died from shots fired to his head in the municipality of Corinto, Cauca. According to local media, hooded men shot several times at Cuetia while he was at a gathering with several of his friends Sunday around 7:30 p.m. local time.
The Human Rights Network of the Colombian Southwest reported the murder of the coordinator in the village of Los Andes, in the north of the department.
"The comrade got several gunshots in the head causing his death," said Deivi Hurtado, coordinator of the Human Rights Network.
Hurtado said that it is worrisome that this type of abuse continues to happen in the country, as just last week Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said that the National Guarantees Security Commission would not allow criminals to continue attacking human rights defenders.
"As we can see, these policies don't have enough echo to stop these types of situations, because one of the biggest problems is that the state does not want to recognize the restructuring of paramilitary groups in the country," said Hurtado.
Since the beginning of the year, four human rights activists have been killed in Cauca and 27 in the rest of the country, according to human rights grounds.
More human rights defenders lost their lives in Colombia in 2016 than any other year that President Santos was in power, according to a new report, which partly attributes the violence to a rise in paramilitary presence following the peace process.
A total of 80 human rights defenders — community leaders, organizers and lawyers defending Indigenous people, campesinos, Afro-Colombians, labor activists, victims' groups, youth and LGBTI members— lost their lives in 2016, reported the program We Are Defenders.