The homicide rate rises again in Colombia

After a continual fall over seven years regarding homicides, in 2018 there was a setback for murder prevention policies, according to Ministry of Defence figures and from the foundation Ideas for Peace (FIP).

According to a report published by the Ministry of Defence, in 2018 a total of 12,311 people were murdered in Colombia. This means about 500 homicides more than in 2017 when 11,831 people were murdered, about 4% more.

Of the total, 3,780 (30.34%) took place in a rural environment and the rest, 8,678 (69.66%) in urban areas.

The most worrying aspect is that according to official data, only 189 people were arrested and deprived of freedom as authors of a homicide and another 102 were taken to court for having connections with a murder.

To address this increase in homicides, authorities suggest an increase in pressure and control in 4 or 5 municipalities of the Bajo Cauca, Tumaco and “la Comuna 13” of Medellín.  But this strategy of focusing on critical areas contrasts with the report of the FIP which states that although giving priority to some territories is important, other territories cannot be overlooked as they may become areas with a high homicide rate.

Moreover, on the part of the FIP it is considered that the increase in homicides responds to several causes and modalities: the incidence of homicides involving knives, the increase in violent deaths of adults, and the existence of 24 municipalities where only women have died violently, implies a differential response in order to control such a phenomenon.

On the part of another association, the Development and Peace Programmes Network (Prodepaz), the consultant Luis Eduardo Celis believes that the departure of the ex-guerrillas from the FARC from the armed conflict avoided between 500 and 800 homicides a year. But in 2018 multiple causes cropped up:

  • The continuation of the conflict and the illegal incomes dispute, as well as the lack of a rule of law that works all over the territory. There are 150 critical municipalities and zones where the conflict is more intense.
  • The partition of land that affects social leaders and public policies to deal with issues related to conflict and insecurity on the part of the region generated the increase in homicide in Colombia.
  • The lack of public tolerance in order to manage conflict, added to social leaders that supported a peace process that has not achieved the expected results neither in terms of cultivation nor in terms of land restitution.
  • The lack of academic and professional opportunities for the young continues to make the population vulnerable to be drawn into mafias and illegal armed groups.

The Ministry stresses that it is necessary to make steady advances in equity policies, that there are many urban conflicts where security and peace strategies have to focus on each region in order to distinguish its current situation, and finally actions involving peace and coexistence strategies are required.

As Eduardo Celis sees it, in Colombia, there is very strong culture of indifference because of the long-term armed conflict and this has generated a culture-based complicity.

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