International Observation Mission to Colombia makes 54 recommendations, including on free trade and military sales

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Image from July 12 media conference on the Mission’s findings.

The International Observation Mission for the Guarantees of Social Protest and Against Impunity in Colombia was comprised of 41 commissioners, including Peace Brigades International-Canada Board member Heather Neun and two members of the Quebec-based Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie (PASC).

It responded to an urgent appeal from numerous groups, including the PBI-Colombia accompanied Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners (CSPP), Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace, and Corporation for Judicial Freedom (CJL).

The Mission was established as a mechanism for the verification and visibility of serious violations of human rights and guarantees of social protest in Colombia.

The commissioners arrived in Colombia on July 3 and released this 32-page preliminary report on July 12. The media conference on this report can be seen here.

The Mission received information on the human rights situation from more than 70 local and regional organizations (strike committees, student groups, women’s collectives, human rights organizations, trade unions, among others) and documented approximately 180 direct complaints of physical attacks, persecution, harassment and violation of human rights within the framework of the National Strike that began on April 28 of this year.

Their preliminary report concludes: “We consider that Colombia is going through a situation of humanitarian emergency and serious human rights crisis.”

Among its 54 recommendations, the Mission called on:

1- the Government of Colombia to stop the repression of the protest and of the entire population that participates and / or supports the demonstrations.

2- the international community and multilateral institutions to pay special attention to prevention, vigilance and demand respect for human rights before, during and after the mobilizations.

3- the Colombian State to demilitarize and structurally reform the National Police in order to carry out the dissolution of the ESMAD riot police.

4- the international community to suspend the sale of military weapons and riot control material, refrain from financing sectors and companies that threaten fundamental human rights in Colombia and activate the suspensive clauses in case of violation of rights of the different free trade and investment agreements signed by Colombia.

5- companies to refrain from financing or supporting state forces or paramilitary or parapolice relating to serious human rights violations including the dispossession of land.

The report concludes: “The Mission is committed to monitoring progress in the recommendations that we have done. The follow-up of urgent actions will be delivered in August 2021 in conjunction with our full report.”

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