IACHR Condemns Murders of Indigenous Adolescents of the Murui-Muina People By An Illegal Armed Group in Colombia

June 15, 2023

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murders of indigenous adolescents of the Murui-Muina people by an illegal armed group in Caquetá, Colombia. The IACHR calls on the State to diligently investigate these events, provide comprehensive reparations to the families of the victims, and take action to prevent the forced recruitment of children and adolescents.

At least three indigenous adolescents who had been victims of forced recruitment in March 2023 were murdered on May 17 by an illegal armed group, after they tried to escape recruitment and return to their communities. The only victim who has been identified so far is Luis Alberto Matías, of the Samaritana del Resguardo Alto Predio community, in the department of Putumayo.

With regard to these events, the State reported on the investigation that is being conducted by the Office of the Attorney General and on its actions in terms of collecting statements and verifying reports with a view to establishing what actually happened and who was responsible for it. The State also reported on its meetings with local authorities and with the National Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon (OPIAC), where the parties agreed to take joint measures to eradicate the recruitment of children and adolescents.

According to information that was submitted by civil society organizations, the territories inhabited by indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities in the departments of Caquetá, Putumayo, and Amazonas have little State presence and offer only limited access to essential services like healthcare, education, security, and justice.

In this context, illegal armed groups have increased their territorial presence and have moved to impose their rule, affecting communities' social organization. This imposed rule delegitimizes ancestral authorities and community organization mechanisms, which endangers the very existence of indigenous and tribal cultures in Colombia.

According to the reports the IACHR has had access to, the increased presence of illegal armed groups has led to a rise in violence against communities and their leaders, including sexual violence against women and forced recruitment of children and adolescents, among other forms of violence.

The IACHR calls on the State to investigate these events with due diligence and to provide reparations to the affected families. In order to protect the rights of ethnic communities in Colombia, the IACHR urges the State to strengthen its comprehensive presence throughout the country's territory, particularly through institutions with a mandate to protect security and justice and institutions that enable effective access to healthcare, education, and employment, among other rights.

Finally, the Commission commends the State on its efforts to search for peace and to dissolve illegal armed groups. The IACHR stresses the right of victims of the country's armed conflict to be involved in these efforts and in mechanisms to verify compliance with any agreements reached.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 120/23

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