At least 101 social leaders and defenders have been killed between January and August 2017, a recent report by the political platform Patriotic March and the organization Indepaz said.
In addition, 194 social leaders received threats and 484 violations of human rights were reported during the same time period, the investigation said.
According to the report, Cauca had the most acts of violence with 61 threats, 29 murders and five attacks, followed by Choco, Valle and Antioquia.
The report said there is a strong concern expressed by the communities regarding the presence of illegal armed groups in these departments and the inaction by the state to combat them.
Activists killed in 2017 include Jose Yimer Cartagena Usuga, whose body was found with stab wounds in Carepa, Antioquia, on Jan. 10 and Feiver Ceron, the president of a local council, was found dead in Mercaderes, Cauca, on Feb. 18.
Earlier this month, Manuel Ramiez Mosquera, a representative of 2,500 inhabitants of Bajo Atrto Chocoano, was found dead in Choco.
The report also affirmed that there is a systematic and general violation of human rights in Colombia, which left a significant number of victims.
Human Rights Watch urged Colombia to effectively protect community activists and social leaders amid the country’s peace process, urged the Colombian government to increase and improve investigations into the suspected culprits in the killings of social leaders.
“The only way to ensure that rights activists are not dissuaded from carrying out their key role in securing a just and durable peace in Colombia is to ensure that these cases are thoroughly investigated and that the killers are brought to justice,” it said.