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Dr. Javier Rincón for RCN Radio, on the consolidation of figures of murders of social leaders

Questions to the announcement of consolidation of figures of murders of social leaders.

According to Indepaz, 310 leaders and human rights defenders were murdered in 2020.

The new proposal to unify the methodology to obtain information about the murder of leaders worries social organizations and academic sectors.

Experts agree that the independence of control organizations may be at risk , while more importance is given to numbers than to the search for a solution to violence in the regions.

With the announcement by President Iván Duque about the search for mechanisms to consolidate the figures of murders of social leaders in Colombia, various opinions were expressed from different sectors.

Claudia Tovar, an analyst of the armed conflict and professor at the Javeriana University , says that in the development of her academic research “the official source appears, it is our duty to provide it, but unfortunately in most cases, the official figures mean for us, under-registration, bad registration, concealment of realities, accommodation of figures.”

For lawyer Javier Rincón, director of the Military Law Observatory of the Javeriana University, “public policy needs consolidated figures, the fact that all these bodies come together to obtain these figures is a very good idea, without that meaning a patent so that the control bodies stop exercising the functions that are theirs.”

In disagreement with what was announced, Lourdes Castro, director of the Somos Defensores program , points out that Attorney General Francisco Barbosa “when he served as Presidential Advisor for Human Rights, he dedicated himself, in his management, to manipulating the methodology and figures provided by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, trying to show a reduction in homicide cases that did not correspond to reality.”

Independence of control at risk

One of the concerns after the presidential announcement is that with the unification of criteria to establish the figures of violence against social leaders, the control function will be lost, or at least put at risk.

Jean Carlo Mejía, director of the legal office at the Nueva Granada University , believes that “the President of the Republic, nor the prosecutor, can give the order or try to impose something on the control bodies.”

The Institute of Peace Studies, Indepaz , monitors the violence against social leaders and human rights defenders daily after the signing of the peace agreement.

Camilo González Posso , its director, says that “curiously it is not a response on the ground, to prevent, to exercise a greater presence of the State or greater effectiveness of the Public Force but rather on the issue of figures or accounting, as if that were the problem, the truth is that this accounting is already there, the Prosecutor's Office, the Ombudsman's Office have it, but what happens is that they do not want to publish the joint figures."

In Colombia, entities such as the Ombudsman's Office, the UN Human Rights Office and the Prosecutor's Office, separately, are responsible for recording cases of murders of social leaders.

The figures, including those from social organizations, do not coincide, partly due to the way in which they are obtained, their sources and even the consideration given to the social leadership that the victims exercised in their territories.

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