Paramilitary groups close churches in northern Colombia

The organization The Voice of the Martyrs disclosed that paramilitary groups closed about sixty churches in the North of Colombia, specifically in Antioquia, Bolívar, Chocó and Córdova.

According to reports by field researchers from that organization, churches and pastors’ homes were marked with the initials of the paramilitary group Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia (AGC); They were not allowed to hold worship services or visit the faithful in their homes. These threats are part of the strategies of these groups to reinforce their control in the area.

Similarly, in Bucaramanga – Santander, pastors denounced death threats and pressure from criminal groups for them and their families to leave the place.

In addition to threats from paramilitary groups, in other areas of the country, criminal cells continue to vandalize temples.

This situation prevents the full exercise of the right to religious freedom since, even though religious communities represent an important social actor and an essential element for the implementation of the peace agreements, the authorities are not able to implement security strategies that allow them to continue with their activities without putting their human safety at risk.

The Observatory of Religious Freedom in Latin America is a program of the Foundation Platform for Social Transformation, a registered charity in Voorburg, The Netherlands under Chamber of Commerce #50264249.

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