Indigenous Peoples in Colombia are once again paying the price of a seemingly never-ending armed conflict, said Amnesty International today after the killing yesterday, by army troops, of Edwin Legarda, the husband of Indigenous leader Aida Quilcué.
Edwin Legarda was fatally injured after being shot by the security forces while travelling to the city of Popayán in Cauca Department, in the south of the country, to pick up his wife, Aída Quilcué, leader of the Indigenous organization, Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca (CRIC). The vehicle he was travelling in was hit 17 times and Edwin Legarda, who was injured in the shooting, later died in hospital.
Aida Quilcué was returning from Geneva, after attending the Human Rights Council’s (HRC) Universal Periodic Review session on Colombia. At the HRC she had publicly raised concerns about human rights violations against Indigenous Peoples, including killings by the security forces. In Colombia, she had also played a prominent role in recent demonstrations by Indigenous people in support of land rights and in protest at human rights violations.
“The killing of Edwin Legarda once again puts a spotlight on growing concerns about the killing of civilians by the security forces and on the precarious security situation of Indigenous Peoples in Colombia. The Colombian authorities must carry out an immediate, exhaustive and impartial investigation into this killing and bring to justice in the civilian courts all those responsible,” said Amnesty International.
Until such investigations are effectively concluded doubts will remain over whether the vehicle in which Edwin Legarda was travelling in was deliberately targeted and over whether Aida Quilqué was in fact the intended target.
The Colombian authorities must also adopt all the necessary measures to protect Indigenous leaders and thereby allow them to carry out their legitimate work of promoting and defending the human rights of Indigenous Peoples.