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  • Colombian human rights defender Emilsen Manyoma

    Colombian human rights defender Emilsen Manyoma | Photo: CONPAZ

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Afro-Colombian human rights activist Emilsen Manyoma is the latest victim in a wave of attacks against human rights defenders in recent months.

On Tuesday police in the Pacific coast city of Buenaventura announced they had discovered the body of Afro-Colombian human rights activist Emilsen Manyoma, 32, and her partner Joe Javier Rodallega, who had been missing since Saturday.

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A prominent leader in the Bajo Calima region since 2005, Manyoma was an active member of the community network CONPAZ where she was an outspoken critic of right-wing paramilitary groups and the displacement of local by international mining and agribusiness interests.

For the past year, Manyoma played a key role in documenting attacks on human rights leaders in the region as part of the recently created Truth Commission.

"With pain in our soul we report the murder of our compañera Emilsen and her companion in Buenaventura"

The police said they had found the bodies in an advanced state of decomposition in a jungle area beside the highway. The Justice and Peace Commission, an ecumenical human rights group, reported that both bodies were severely wounded, with Rodallega’s hands reported tied. Radio Contagio reported that both bodies were beheaded.

While police did not release the names of any suspects, just days before their disappearance on Saturday, Rodallega reported being threatened and said a truck had been circling Manyoma’s house.

According to the human rights organization Front Line Defenders, at least 85 human rights defenders were murdered in Colombia in 2016 alone.

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