Ongoing conflict and lack of state support threaten Colombia’s 1.4 million indigenous people, who face killings, sexual abuse, recruitment as child soldiers and the persecution of their leaders, according to a new report released Monday by the international human rights organization Amnesty International. The group is urging the Colombian government to adopt firmer measures to guarantee indigenous rights.
Colombia’s Interior Minister Fabio Valencia Cossio, who assumed presidential duties while President Álvaro Uribe attended the Rio Group Summit this week, released a communiqué on Tuesday saying that the Amnesty report is too harsh. He contends that the group has failed to recognize the government’s achievements on indigenous rights, which were praised by the United Nations in July. The communiqué also says the cultivation of illicit drugs is a primary reason for the displacement of indigenous communities.
While indigenous people make up only 3.4 percent of Colombia’s population, they constitute 7 percent of the country’s displaced people, according to Amnesty International.