Murder of William Castillo

On 7 March 2016, William Castillo Chima, a social leader, former president and treasurer of Aheramigua, was murdered.  Hired assassins took his life in a public space in El Bagre’s urban centre. William Castillo had spoken out publicly about the displacement of hundreds of people from hamlets in Puerto Claver, and the disappearance of two civilians at the hands of illegal armed groups.  William’s murder was a hard blow for the organisation’s members.  They didn’t just loose a friend and founding member of the collective process, it also left the organisation completely unprotected in El Bagre, after the field team was forced to leave the area where they worked and lived.  They have demanded security guarantees before they agree to return. The Public Prosecutor’s Office has recognised that “Castillo Chima was murdered because of the work he was doing in the area as a human rights defender and because of his inconformity with the abuses and displacements of families, which were caused by the Clan del Golfo delinquent structure which has power in the area”.[1] In other words, he was killed because of his work with Aheramigua.

william castillo

Before the killing, William Castillo had received threats and been arrested by the Army, and released without charge, accused of sedition.  Twelve days earlier at least six community leaders were killed in different departments around the country, and in many of those cases the culprits were identified as neo-paramilitary groups. According to Aheramigua, the risk of prosecutions and selective killings continues to be high for all members as a strategy to silence them and stop them from speaking out.

Since William’s murder, PBI brought to national and international attention the lack of guarantees for people who defend human rights, and this resulted in the capture of William alias ‘Didier’,[2] the 21 year old who murdered William.


[1] Public Prosecutor: A la cárcel por homicidio de defensor de Derechos Humanos del Bajo Cauca, 29 July 2016
[2] CMI: Capturado integrante clan del Golfo sindicado de asesinar a un Defensor de DD.HH., 1 August 2016

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