Colombia: The killing of peasant farmers in Tumaco underlines the need to implement the Peace Agreement

Nine peasant farmers (campesinos) have been killed and more than a dozen injured in the municipality of Tumaco in southwestern Colombia, allegedly by members of the Colombian Army and National Police. This is a clear signal to the authorities of the need to protect to the civilian population during the implementation of the Peace Agreement, said Amnesty International.

According to the Community Associations of Mira, Nulpe and Mataje (Asominuma), on 5 October, members of Colombia's security forces opened fire indiscriminately on rural communities protesting peacefully in the areas of Alto Mira and Frontera, municipality of Tumaco.

The communities were protesting against the slow implementation of the programme for the voluntary replacement of illicit crops, set out in the Peace Agreement signed in November last year.

Nothing will change in Colombia until everyone in the country can protest peacefully without fear of losing their lives
Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International

"Nothing will change in Colombia until everyone in the country can protest peacefully without fear of losing their lives," said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director of Amnesty International.

"It is imperative that the Colombian authorities investigate this spate of killings and bring those responsible to justice. Failure to do so, as so often happens, will send a signal that the lives of campesinos are of no value, and that the armed conflict is continuing."

Since 28 September 2017, the farming communities of Alto Mira and Frontera have been protesting peacefully against the current strategy of the government to reduce the areas planted with illicit crops. According to the protesters, the authorities are failing to comply with the terms of the Peace Agreement, which states that such actions must be voluntary and carried out with their consent.

Tumaco is one of the areas with the greatest coca leaf production in the country; Alto Mira is the territory with the most hectares planted with coca. As a result, it is a priority area for the implementation of the illicit crop replacement programme. However, as in other areas of this region, progress in implementing the Peace Agreement has been slow and rural communities are concerned about the lack of government action to guarantee their fundamental rights or provide alternatives forms of development.

Campesino associations are calling on the national government, and in particular the Ministry of Defence, to comply with what was agreed in Havana regarding community consultation and consent in each jurisdiction affected by the replacement programme. They stress the economic, environmental and human rights impacts in their territories of the failure to carry out the consultation guaranteed in the agreement.