Colombia: Sentinel Project Releases Report finding Moderate Risk of Genocide to Indigenous Colombians
In the context of war, unprotected minorities can be at risk even if there is little to no explicit grievance or hatred against them. Two major factors pose a threat to the vulnerable and marginalized indigenous population.
The first is the Colombian conflict, which has lasted decades, claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands and forcibly displaced millions. Indigenous Colombians are disproportionately the target of violence and intimidation. This is especially the case for indigenous activists, who quickly become the target of the groups they oppose through peaceful protest. This violence has also affected non-indigenous groups, but the smallness and vulnerability of indigenous groups means they cannot withstand the sort of assault that takes place.
The second problem is the lack of enforcement of laws, rights and promises that should protect indigenous Colombians. Colombia’s laws afford its indigenous people a wide variety of formal protections of their lands and culture, as well as a right to consultation. However, this formal protection rarely translates into practice, and the government, guerrilla groups, militias and foreign companies ignore many of these rights. This is especially the case in regions made insecure by the conflict, where displaced indigenous communities often return to find their constitutionally-guaranteed land occupied by others.
Despite these threats, the Sentinel Project sees concrete changes taking place in the Colombian conflict that justify modest hope for an improvement in the situation. Many of these stem from advances made by the current government under President Juan Manuel Santos, who is more conciliatory and is open both to negotiate with opposing factions and respect the rights of Colombia’s indigenous citizens. The Sentinel Project therefore concludes that Colombia’s indigenous people are still at risk of genocide, but their situation is not intractable.
About the Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention:
The Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention’s mission is to prevent mass atrocities worldwide through effective early warning and cooperation with victimized peoples to carry out non-violent prevention initiatives. The Sentinel Project is actively monitoring situations of concern in Iran and Burma and is the publisher of the human-rights focused software platforms Threatwiki and Hatebase. For more information, please visit www.thesentinelproject.org
Contact: Chris Tuckwood, Executive Director