International Observation Mission calls on Colombian government to guarantee the right to mobility, assembly and social protest

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Twitter photo by Eduardo Sogamoso shows a Canadian-made Huron armoured personnel carrier stopping buses on their way to a popular assembly in Cali.

The International Observation Mission for Guarantees for Social Protest and Against Impunity has issued a statement calling on the Colombian government to guarantee the right to mobility, assembly and social protest.

Their statement posted on July 17 notes:

“In the last few hours, various social and human rights organizations have denounced the harassment, profiling, threats of immobilization and registration of vehicles that go in Caravan from various territories of Colombia to the city of Cali to participate in the Second National Popular Assembly that will take place between 17 and 20 July.”

“These actions that limit the mobility of people are unconstitutional and constitute serious violations of fundamental human rights (the right to mobility, the right to freedom of expression, the right to assembly, the right to information and the press, the right to association and the right to participation) which prevents the society that is organized from doing so freely and without restrictions.”

“It is worrying that at the time of the detention of the buses by agents of the National Police, who demand that people prove that they are human rights defenders, which is contrary to the same UN declaration on this work.”

The full statement can be read here.

United Nations Special Rapporteur’s concerns

That morning, Clement Voule, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association and Peaceful Assembly, tweeted:

“I am concerned about the application of the decree adopted by the Govt of Valle del Cauca which, despite its exceptions, is currently limiting the arrival of human rights defenders in Cali, restricting their right to peaceful assembly in Cali.”

Global Affairs Canada has promised “appropriate action”

In multiple photos and videos posted on social media, a Huron armoured personnel carrier manufactured by the Toronto-based company INKAS can be seen stopping participants on their way to the popular assembly.

Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Michel Cimpaye has told the media: “From the outset of hostilities, Global Affairs Canada communicated with the appropriate Colombian authorities, who confirmed that Colombian law enforcement agencies are not using Canadian armored vehicles to deal with the situation.”

And on June 24, Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Jason Jung further explained to Radio Canada International: “Canada is monitoring developments in Colombia and will take appropriate action if credible evidence of the inappropriate use of any controlled Canadian product or technology is identified, including to perpetrate or facilitate serious violations of international human rights law.”

As of July 17 at 9:30 pm ET, there has been no public comment on Twitter from Global Affairs Canada or the Embassy of Canada in Colombia.

The International Observation Mission commissioners arrived in Colombia on July 3 and released this 32-page preliminary report on July 12.

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.”

The media conference on this report can be seen here.

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