More than 100 rights and labour activists killed in Colombia

More than 100 rights and labour activists killed in Colombia
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Bogota: More than 100 activists for human and labour rights were killed in Colombia this year, after a landmark peace deal between the government and FARC rebels, the United Nations said.

The deaths occurred in rural zones where the FARC was active, and where government authority was not present, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement.

In total, up to December 20, a total 105 killings had been registered, it said. Another 11 were being verified.

Colombia’s government, which had a different tally of such deaths, denied there was a systematic pattern to the murders.

Under the November 2016 peace deal, the FARC — the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — went on to disarm and to transform itself into a political party using the same initials.

President Juan Manuel Santos has vowed to protect the demobilised fighters and rights activists.

His defence minister, Luis Carlos Villegas, said on Sunday that “most” of the murders were over turf disputes and “struggles over illicit income.”

But the UN statement expressed concern at the killings, and said agitation for human rights appeared to be the determining motive for the violence.