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UN blames government for Afro-Colombian “plight”
3/17/2010
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Expert the state has been insufficient in improving the situation of this marginalized group.

The United Nations railed against the Colombian government for failing to improve the situation facing its Afro-Colombian population, one of the country´s poorest and most marginalized groups.

On Feb. 15, following a 12-day visit to Colombia, the UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues, Gay McDougall said Afro-Colombians are facing “deep poverty” and continue to be displaced from their ancestral lands, partly because of large-scale projects that put corporate economic interests above those of this group, despite strong legislation defending the rights of Afro-Colombian populations.

“In the face of such economic interests and mega-projects, it appears that the rights of communities are ´inconvenient rights´ and that the laws put in place to protect them are equally inconvenient,” said McDougall during a press conference in Bogota.

“Despite the granting of collective titles to some 90 percent of Afro-Colombian ancestral lands, many communities are displaced, dispossessed and unable to live on or work their lands,” she added. “As one woman told me: ´The laws say all the right things but still nothing has happened.´”

On March 10, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report that highly criticized the ongoing human rights violations in Colombia and the continued “climate of terror” for certain groups, including rights workers, union members, indigenous community members and Afro-Colombian populations, judges, lawyers and journalists.

“Indigenous and Afro-Colombians have been disproportionately affected by the conflict and criminal violence, not least because most of their communities are located in strategic areas, rich in mineral and energy resources,” said the UN office´s 2010-2011 Strategic Management Plan. “The resulting forced displacement is now a serious humanitarian challenge.” –Latinamerica Press.


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