Colombian cartels killing people for breaking their COVID-19 lockdown rules in Colombia

Armed groups Colombian cartels are enforcing their own COVID-19 lockdown orders in Colombia, and killing people who don’t comply, a human rights organization says.

At least eight civilians have been murdered by the armed groups, some of them holdovers from Colombia’s half-century civil war, which are using Whatsapp chats and pamphlets to warn citizens of the lockdowns in the rural areas where they operate.

“In communities across Colombia, armed groups have violently enforced their own measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch, said in the report released Wednesday. “This abusive social control reflects the government’s long-standing failure to establish a meaningful state presence in remote areas of the country, including to protect at-risk populations,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at HRW.”

One pamphlet by the National Liberation Army (ELN) fighters in Bolívar, in northern Colombia, from early April said they were “forced to kill people in order to preserve lives” because the population had not “respected the orders to prevent Covid-19.”

“They have shut down transport between villages, and when someone is suspected to have Covid-19 they are told to leave the region or they will be killed,” one community leader in Colombia’s southern Putumayo province told the Guardian, on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. “And people have no choice but to obey because they never see the government here.”

One pamphlet by the National Liberation Army (ELN) fighters in Bolívar, in northern Colombia, from early April said they were “forced to kill people in order to preserve lives” because the population had not “respected the orders to prevent Covid-19.”

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As of Wednesday, Colombia had announced about 160,000 coronavirus cases and right around 6,000 passings during the pandemic, as indicated by Johns Hopkins University.  Human Rights Watch talked with in excess of 50 Colombians, including examiners, police, compassionate associations and network pioneers, and looked into leaflets, media reports and neighborhood human rights bunches distributions. Here are instances of what they found:

A rancher was murdered in La Medina subsequent to going to meet companions in a network secured by the National Liberation Army. The pamphlet said “only people working in food stores, bakeries, and pharmacies can work,” and only until certain hours of the day, saying others should stay “inside their houses,” according to a review done by HRW.

HRW called on the government of Iván Duque to do more to protect those at the mercy of myriad armed groups during the lockdown.