Race and Equality condemns the murder of five young Afro-Colombians in Cali and issues recommendations for ensuring truth and preventing future killings

Bogotá, August 14, 2020.- The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) condemns the killing of five young Afro-Colombians, whose families had been previously victimized by Colombia’s armed conflict, in the Llano Verde neighborhood of Cali. As an organization working to protect and promote human rights, Race and Equality expresses our solidarity with the mourning families and community. We stand alongside the community to demand that this crime not fall into impunity and that the government adopt the necessary measures to prevent such tragedies from reoccurring.

The five victims have been identified as Jean Paul Cruz Perlaza, 15; Leyder Cárdenas Hurtado, 15; Juan Manuel Montaño, 15; Álvaro José Caicedo Silva, 14; and Jair Andrés Cortez Castro, 14. The five had left their homes on the morning of Tuesday, August 11 for a community activity; their bodies were discovered at the end of the day in a nearby sugarcane field, showing signs of torture and execution-style gunshot wounds.

Just two days later, on August 13, another person was killed and fifteen more were injured in the same neighborhood when an unidentified person set off an explosive device. According to local media, the bombing was an attempt to attack the local police division.

Contextualizing the events

 Race and Equality calls for full reparation of the victims’ families and community, along with measures to ensure that such tragedies do not reoccur. To be effective and to comply with Afro-Colombians’ human rights, these measures must take into account the particular circumstances of Afro-Colombians who were displaced by the armed conflict. These communities suffered grave rights violations and the loss of their ancestral territories; today, they continue to suffer further incidents of displacement, threats, attacks, murders and assassinations, forced recruitment by illegal groups including drug traffickers, sexual exploitation, and a lack of educational and work opportunities.

“Stopping the violence against Afro-Colombian communities requires us to recognize and confront the factors that underly it: historical patterns of structural racism and racial discrimination that deny Afro-Colombians the conditions to ensure equality and to claim their rights as Afro-Colombians,” according to Pedro Cortes, Race and Equality’s advisor in Colombia who leads the organization’s work accompanying Afro-Colombian organizations in denouncing rights violations and advocating for justice before the national government and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)

Race and Equality has issued a set of recommendations to Colombian authorities, designed to ensure that the government’s response to the killings take into account the victims’ experiences as Afro-Colombians, address the particular impact of violence upon young Afro-Colombians, and protect the rights and safety of the victims’ families and community.

Race and Equality has also requested that the IACHR, United Nations human rights treaty bodies, and United Nations special procedures all take action to ensure that the government’s response brings justice.

Read our statement and the recommendations here.

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