Over 100 human rights defenders have been murdered this year despite a cease-fire and a signed peace deal to end the internal armed conflict, according to new numbers that compile several counts.
The majority of the murders were committed by paramilitaries and the national army in 24 of the 32 departments, reported El Espectador, which had figures twice as high as those estimated earlier by the U.N. Earlier estimates sat at 70 deaths, while earlier this week the left-leaning Marcha Patriotica party claimed 95 in this year’s count.
The organization called on local and international authorities to express solidarity with their leaders who fight to defend human rights and have been persecuted and killed over recent months.
"Each of us must take a stand,” the party said in a statement. “Step up and defend the rights of a refugee or migrant, a person with a disability, an LGBT person, a woman, an Indigenous person, a child, an African-descendant, or any other person at risk of being discriminated against or suffering from a violent act."
The total figure from the new estimates stands at 114 deaths, a full 40 of them from the Cauca department, which has a high Afro-Colombian and Indigenous population.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights revealed earlier this month that 75 percent of the homicide victims were operating in rural parts of Colombia and attackers were using more sophisticated methods to help cover up their crimes. Since the government signed the first peace deal with FARC leaders on Sep. 26, 13 murders occurred and seven of these were in rural areas, where the FARC had a presence before disarming for peace, the office said.
The office noted that some of the violence was due to a vacuum of power, where previously the FARC's presence in rural areas would help “regulate” disputes.