Deputy Seán Crowe said: “It is clear that the Colombian Government is failing toprotect political and community leaders from deadly attacks from right wingparamilitaries.
“Last year, at least 170 community leaders were killed inColombia and 21 were killed last month alone. Former combatants from the FARC guerrilla group are also being attacked in greater numbers and 37 havebeen assassinated since the Peace Agreement was signed in 2016.
“Congressional elections are taking place in March andPresidential elections will take place in May, so political campaigning is wellunderway. The newly-formed FARC political party, the People’s AlternativeRevolutionary Force, is taking part in these elections but they have had tosuspend their campaigning because of violent attacks on their public events andthreats against their candidates.
“I want to join with many others in expressing my deepestconcern with this worrying development and call on the Colombian Government toprovide guarantees of security and safety for all election candidates so thatthey can campaign freely. Rather than a new beginning in Colombia that wouldallow all political parties to operate freely, there has instead been asustained campaign to suppress and close down the limited space that the FARCpolitical party had to work and operate.
“If the Colombian peace process is to grow and develop, allpolitical parties, as well as all strands of political opinion, need to be ableto partake in the electoral and political process without the constant fear ofattack or possible assassination.
“No peace process can grow or develop against abackdrop of systematic killings or in a climate of fear and repression.”