To Michael Richard Pence
Vice President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500 

April 12, 2018

Re: Threat to security and stability of peace accord implementation and U.S. policy goals in Colombia posed by assassinations of community leaders

Dear Mr. Vice President:
As you prepare for your visit to the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru this week, we urge you to address the astoundingly high number of assassinations of social leaders and human rights defenders (HRDs) in Colombia. Tragedies in their own right, these killings and abuses pose a grave risk to Colombia’s progress towards peace and stability, even threatening U.S. counter-narcotics efforts and democracy. The U.S. has played a vital role in securing peace in Colombia and the inclusion of the Ethnic Chapter, which guarantees the rights of minority groups in the accord. We urge you to convey a clear message to President Juan Manuel Santos and Colombian officials that these killings adversely affect U.S.-Colombia national security interests.
Since the beginning of 2018, on average a community leader or human rights defender has been killed every 48 hours in Colombia. The country has one of the highest global rates of murder of human rights defenders and journalists and there has been no justice in over 90 percent of these cases. Threats against these leaders undermine their ability to play a vital accountability role in documenting human rights abuses related to corruption and trafficking. Weakening these communities cedes control to paramilitary forces, narco-traffickers and corrupt…