CSPP lawyer Oscar Ramirez to speak about dismantling the Colombian ESMAD riot police at PBI webinar on June 3rd

Published by Brent Patterson on

Oscar Ramirez is a Bogota-based lawyer and the vice-president of the Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners (CSPP).

To hear him speak on a webinar happening on Thursday June 3 about the current situation in Colombia, please register here.

CSPP calls for the dismantling of the ESMAD riot police

The CSPP has tweeted: “ESMAD has been a body that has systematically violated human rights in Colombia. It abuses its power, exercises force in an illegal and disproportionate way, does not comply with action protocols … that is why #DesmonteDelESMADYa”

#DesmonteDelESMADYa translates as “dismantling of the ESMAD now”.

Police have killed at least 43 activists this past month

Yesterday, The Guardian reported: “Since protests erupted in April, the police response has been brutal. At least 43 protesters have been killed by officers, according to local human rights monitor, Temblores, with mounting reports of arbitrary detention, torture and sexual abuse of protesters at the hands of police.”

That article adds: “Forty-six people have suffered eye injuries, prompting speculation that police were intentionally seeking to blind protesters. A similar tactic was used by police in Chile during a wave of unrest that began there in late 2019.”

Paola Holguín, a senator from the ruling Centro Democrático party, prompted outrage on Wednesday afternoon when he said: “Don’t fool Colombians and don’t fool the international community and stop crying over one eye.”

History of police violence

In October 2020, Vice reported: “A December report from human rights organization Temblores details 34 extrajudicial killings at the hands of ESMAD since it was created in 1999 and goes on to document over 40,000 instances of physical abuse and over 600 killings by national police forces between 2017 and 2019.”

Canadian unions back the call to dismantle ESMAD

On May 11, the Canadian Labour Congress, representing 3.3 million workers in this country, issued this statement that says: “Canadian unions condemn this violence and support the legitimate demands of the Colombian people for the dismantling of the Colombian national police riot control unit (known by its Spanish acronym ESMAD).”


The CSPP was formed in 1973, notably with the support of the exiled Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez who donated the $10,000 he received through the Neustadt International Prize for Literature the previous year to assist in the formation.

At that time, the CSPP was starting up to support leaders of the oil workers union who had been imprisoned for leading a strike.

The Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project was established in 1994 and has accompanied the CSPP since 1998.

To register to hear Oscar Ramirez from the CSPP speak this coming Thursday June 3 about the current situation in Colombia, please click here.

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