Today, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) published its observations and recommendations following its working visit to Colombia between 8 and 10 June 2021 and announced the creation of a Special Monitoring Mechanism on Human Rights in Colombia.
“The IACHR has heard first-hand the testimonies of hundreds of victims who demand truth, justice, and reparation for the human rights violations committed in the context of the National Strike. However, the repression is continuing. The authorities must give an unequivocal order that the violent repression by the security forces must stop and immediately comply with the recommendations of the IACHR,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.
The IACHR has heard first-hand the testimonies of hundreds of victims who demand truth, justice, and reparation for the human rights violations committed in the context of the National Strike. However, the repression is continuing. The authorities must give an unequivocal order that the violent repression by the security forces must stop and immediately comply with the recommendations of the IACHRErika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.
Since the demonstrations started on 28 April, Amnesty International has reported how the Colombian authorities’ response has focused on stigmatizing social protest and, alongside this, violent repression by the security forces using excessive and unlawful force. While it is true that isolated violent events have occurred, causing damage to public and private property, during the more than 50 days of protests, most of the demonstrations have been peaceful.
The IACHR’s observations note that, three months after the start of the National Strike, Amnesty International has received dozens of reports of homicides, enforced disappearances, sexual violence, attacks on journalists and medical missions, as well as violence against human rights defenders, Indigenous peoples and Afro-descendant people. In addition, the organization has learned that hundreds of people have been wounded, some of whom sustained serious eye injuries. Certain instances of urban paramilitarism are particularly worrying and, along with other incidents, demand that the authorities act with greater efficiency and diligence to bring those responsible to justice and guarantee the victims’ rights to justice, truth and reparation.
“The IACHR has shone a light on a fundamental issue regarding the current situation in Colombia: the state cannot ban all roadblocks or barricades and equate them with criminal acts – because in many instances these modalities and other form of protest on the streets, in squares and in public places are protected by the right to peaceful protest set out in Inter-American standards, especially in cases where they involve voices that have no other way to express themselves, as is the case in Colombia,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas.
In the interest of solidarity and support among all countries in the region, for which the Colombian Foreign Minister appealed in her speech on 1 July before the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS), Amnesty International urges Member States to join the IACHR in calling on Colombia to undertake prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into human rights violations committed during the violent repression of the demonstrations, in order to guarantee truth, justice, and reparation for the victims in Colombia.
The organization also urges the Permanent Council of the OAS to convene an extraordinary session where the IACHR is invited to present its observations and recommendations and during which, in contrast with the presentation made on 1 July to that body by the Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marta Lucía Ramírez, where there were no questions and/or enquiries from states, there is the possibility to engage in genuine dialogue with states in the region.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Amnesty International press office: +44 (0) 20 7413 5566, [email protected]