The Office of Colombia's Ombudsman Monday launched an appeal for the authorities to look after the integrity of LGBTQ people after 35 transgender women have been murdered this year nationwide.
From the Ombudsman's Office we make an urgent call to all authorities to guarantee the life and integrity of transgender women, Carlos Camargo posted on social media.
The official underscored transgender women endure marginalization and violence more rigorously, and demanded a greater commitment from the Government in the investigation of these crimes.
Camargo said he believed it was important to determine who is behind these homicides crimes and prosecute them in order to establish whether these acts were hate crimes. The Ombudsman also asked Colombians not to naturalize hatred and prejudice against people with a diverse sexual orientation and gender identity and insisted the investigation and resolution of these types of cases be carried out devoid of biases.
The most recent assassination of a transgender woman took place Dec. 7 in Santa Marta, when hitmen killed social leader Cristina Cantillo, who despite having bodyguards appointed by the State was defenseless at the time of the crime. Cantillo had been the victim of two attacks this year and had threfore been granted bodyguards from the National Protection Unit (UNP).
According to press reports, these bodyguards gave contradicting explanations as to why Cantillo was alone at the time of the attack. The Ombudsman's Office also pointed out that since 2019 it has alerted the authorities about the risks Cantillo and four other leaders of the LGBT community were exposed to.
In May 2019, the Ombudsman's Office had asked the UNP to assign an armored vehicle to Cantillo and a security scheme in her home, since she worked through virtual platforms, despite which an evaluation committee eventually decided to lift the protection program. After Cantillo's crime, the Ombudsman's Office requested immediate protection for her family and demanded that the authorities investigate the crime under the classification of femicide and that her identity as a transgender woman be evaluated as a possible motive.