Santo Domingo, May 10, 2018.- Civil society organizations denounced serious human rights violations experienced by various indigenous peoples of Colombia most of which occurred during the internal armed conflict and that have put 65% of this population at risk of extinction.
"We thought that after the signature of the peace treaty between the national government of Colombia and FARC, tranquility and harmony would come to our ancestral territory. On the contrary, violence increased throughout Chocó", said Luis Angel Jindrama Mayoma, a member of the Embera indigenous people and coordinator of the National Human Rights Commission of the National Organization of Indigenous Traditional Authorities of Colombia.
The petitioners reported that the disputes between the different armed groups and the interference of mining and oil companies have led to the confinement of multiple communities, including the Embera and Wunaan Peoples, as well as violations of the right to prior, free and informed consultation.
It is estimated that there are 102 indigenous peoples in Colombia, according to figures provided by different organizations and entities that work with these groups. 16% of indigenous people in the country were affected by the internal armed conflict. According to the Colombian Constitutional Court, 36 groups are at risk of extinction due to events arising from the internal conflict, including forced displacement and the construction of megaprojects. Also, the Indigenous Peoples and Organizations have determined that another 31 groups face a process of imminent extermination due to their demographic fragility, among other causes. In total 67 Indigenous Peoples at risk of disappearance.
The Colombian State has issued orders such as the Constitutional Court Order No. 004, and laws such as Legislative Decree 4633 of 2011 to provide comprehensive measures of reparation and restitution of land for the indigenous peoples victims of the conflict. Violations of victims’ rights persist due to the lack of state investment and political will for the implementation of effective, systematic and lasting measures.
"Since 2009, the Constitutional Court declared 36 groups at risk of physical and cultural extermination, including the Siona People. We have made statements and reports of risk, but there have been no concrete or suitable responses to what we have done" said Mario Erazo Yaiguaje, leader of the Siona people of Buenavista,"We are secluded due to mining activities, we can not practice our customs and our children have been recruited and taken out of school. There have been also invasions of land by the oil company Amerisur. We as leaders are living a tough situation and we run a serious risk in denouncing what is happening in Colombia".
The petitioner groups requested the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to conduct an on-site visit to Colombia to monitor the human rights situation of Indigenous Peoples and facilitate a dialogue with government authorities in order find a durable and efficient solution to the situation of human rights violations that have been reported.
"In spite of the Peace Agreement, today Colombia and particularly its indigenous peoples, are experiencing a humanitarian crisis that is just beginning and that affects the physical and cultural integrity of the peoples present here and those who remain within Colombia. This new scenario requires an immediate, comprehensive and concerted intervention by the State, which to date has not occurred" said Lina Maria Espinosa of Amazon Frontlines.