Colombia should probe the killings of 12 members of the Awá indigenous community and take immediate measures to protect the community, says Human Rights Watch.
Armed men in camouflage broke into a home early on the morning of 26 August, shooting and killing 11 people, including four children and three teenagers. The massacre took place in El Rosario, Tumaco, in the southern border state of Nariño.
The bloodbath followed the killing of Gonzalo Rodríguez, another member of the community, a few days earlier. Rodríguez's wife, Tulia García, who had witnessed his abduction, was among those killed on 26 August.
"Initial reports suggest that members of the Army may have massacred these people, with the purpose of eliminating and intimidating witnesses of atrocities," said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch.
"The government needs to make sure there is an effective investigation of this horrific crime."
Worst human rights situation
There is a heavy presence of various armed groups and Colombian military forces in Nariño, creating one of the worst human rights and humanitarian situations in Colombia. Civilians from the most vulnerable sectors of society, including Afro-Colombians and indigenous groups, are among the most adversely affected by the violence there.
But the government routinely fails to respond adequately to reports of abuses there, Human Rights Watch said.
According to the Awá Indigenous Association (known as UNIPA), 38 members of the Awá have been killed so far this year. In February, at least 11 Awá were killed by the left-wing FARC guerrillas in one massacre.
The Awá leaders reported to Human Rights Watch a wide array of abuses. In addition to the killings, they reported death threats, the use of antipersonnel landmines in their territory, recruitment of children to serve as combatants in armed groups and massive forced displacement.
"In Nariño, as in many parts of Colombia, the conflict rages on and abuses are rampant, yet often civilians feel ignored by the state," said Vivanco. "Instead of pretending the conflict doesn't exist, the national government needs to do much more to protect civilians, ensure accountability for abuses, and provide assistance to the victims."