The constitution provides for freedom of religion and the right to profess one’s religious beliefs. It prohibits discrimination based on religion. The Ministry of Interior (MOI) is responsible for legally recognizing churches, religious denominations, religious federations and confederations, and associations of religious ministers, among other responsibilities. According to religious groups, individuals had difficulty obtaining exemptions from military service on religious grounds. A 2014 ruling by the constitutional court required the military to respond within 15 business days to requests for waiver of military service for reasons of conscientious objection. The Evangelical Council of Colombia reported that as of the end of the year, the military had not responded to two requests for conscientious objector status made in June and August by members of Christian churches.
The attorney general’s office reported six religiously based killings this year. Two killings were reported in Meta Department, and one each in the departments of Antioquia, Cordoba, Narino, and Sucre. The attorney general also cited 11 official ongoing investigations for religiously motivated crimes: six related to threats, one for attempted murder, three for personal injury, and one for forced displacement. In some areas of the country, illegal armed groups, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), and organized crime groups killed or threatened leaders and members of religious groups, and targeted them for extortion. These actions often disrupted the activities of religious groups working on behalf of vulnerable populations. The Jewish Community reported continued comments promoting anti-Semitism on some social media sites. During the year, religious groups conducted a range of programs focused on restorative justice, reintegration of former combatants, and reconciliation.
U.S. embassy officials discussed issues of religious freedom, such as conscientious objection to military service, with the government and civil society. U.S. embassy officials met periodically with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Attorney General’s Office, and the MOI, as well as with representatives from a wide range of religious groups, including the Jewish community, Catholics, evangelicals, Baptists, and Mennonites, to discuss issues related to initiatives to promote freedom of religion and of association, institutionalized discrimination and conscientious objection, peace and tolerance.