Colombia: Abduction of UN official highlights obstacles in local implementation of peace process

8 May 2017, 19:04 UTC

Amnesty International demands the immediate release of the United Nations official Harley López, abducted in Barranquillita (Guaviare), in south-eastern Colombia. His illegal deprivation of liberty is a wake-up call for the Colombian authorities to the urgent protection needs of thousands of people throughout the country, the organization said today.

According to official sources and United Nations agencies, the official from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime was abducted by dissidents from the 1st Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on Thursday 4 May.

It is worrying that these types of incidents are occurring in the context of the local implementation of the peace agreement with the FARC. Amnesty International urgently calls on the Colombian government, the FARC and the UN Monitoring and Verification Mission to demand the immediate release of Harley López, to condemn this incident and to take measures to guarantee not only the release of the official but that this type of incident does not happen again.

“The silence of the government and the FARC in relation to this serious incident and to the critical security situation in the country in general is worrying. If the necessary conditions for the local implementation of the peace agreement are not guaranteed, the results could be devastating for the communities, civil society organizations and international bodies involved in this process,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

“The abductions, collective displacement, isolation of communities, and the killings of human rights defenders which many communities in Colombia are facing should not be hidden under the umbrella of the progress of the peace agreement.”

Although the peace agreement could signify a valuable opportunity for Colombia, as ratified by the government during the recent visit of the United Nations Security Council to the country, Amnesty International warns that on the local level, serious human rights violations which affect communities historically affected by the armed conflict are intensifying, and could undermine peace-building efforts in Colombia.