Canada discusses human rights with Colombia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Twitter photo by Michael Grant.

On May 31, Michael Grant, the Assistant Deputy Minister for the Americas for Global Affairs Canada, tweeted about a meeting with Colombia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Francisco Javier Echeverri Lara and officials from both countries.

Grant noted: “Very productive 15th bilateral consultations with Colombia today. Important exchanges on human rights, cooperation on regional challenges (migration and Venezuela), trade and investment, mobility and more.”

Canadian statements on the disproportionate use of force

The content of the discussion on human rights was not made public, but Canada has recently made statements of concern and condemnation about the use of force by Colombian security forces against the national strike protests.

On May 4, the Canadian Ambassador to Colombia Marcel Lebleu tweeted: “I deeply regret all the deaths, injuries and violence in Colombia. We defend the right to peaceful demonstration and we are concerned about the excessive use of force against protesters.”

And on May 9, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau further stated: “Canada condemns the violence, including the disproportionate use of force by security forces, and urges that the violence cease.”

It is not known if the officials participating in the meeting yesterday were aware of the situation of Colombian security forces firing at Indigenous land defenders protesting against the Canadian company Gran Tierra in Putumayo. That situation is described by the Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace in this report.

IACHR concerns about the situation in Colombia

Concerns about the disproportionate and unlawful use of force have also been raised by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an independent body of the Organization of American States of which Canada is a member.

On May 25, the IACHR issued this statement that highlights: “[The Commission] expresses its concern over the serious crisis facing Colombia and condemns the serious human rights violations recorded during the social protests.”

Their statement adds: “The Commission emphasizes that at least 1,038 demonstrations reportedly resulted in cases of deaths, disappearances, injuries, and sexual assaults as a result of the disproportionate and unlawful use of force.”

The IACHR further expressed its alarm that “at least 87 acts of sexual violence [have been] allegedly committed by law enforcement agents against women demonstrators.”

The IACHR is now scheduled to visit Colombia on June 8.

Webinar this Thursday June 3

To build a greater awareness of what is currently happening in Colombia, Peace Brigades International is convening a webinar this Thursday June 3 with three Colombian human rights defenders: Oscar Ramirez, Berenice Celeita and Danilo Rueda.

The webinar will also include an update from Rachel Small of World Beyond War Canada about the export of Canadian-manufactured armoured vehicles to the Colombian national police and concerns about the 3,405 cases of police violence against the national strike.

To register for the webinar, click here.

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