PBI-Colombia accompanies dhColombia at meeting with Canadian Embassy and victims of police violence

Published by Brent Patterson on

On November 29, PBI-Colombia tweeted: “Today there was an important meeting with victims of police violence accompanied by @dhColombia with the diplomatic corps. Victims expressed lack of progress in the processes and constant threats against them and requested impulses in their cases to avoid impunity.”

PBI-Colombia adds: “We thank @ONUHumanRights @NoruegaenCOL @CanadayColombia @UEenColombia @UKinColombia for their presence and availability to follow up on cases of police violence.”

In June of this year, Human Rights Watch stated: “Members of the Colombian National Police have committed egregious abuses against mostly peaceful demonstrators in protests that began in April 2021.”

Human Rights Watch further notes: “On May 14, the Ombudsperson’s Office reported 2 cases of rape, 14 cases of sexual assault, and 71 other cases of gender-based violence by police officers, including slapping and verbal abuse.”

And José Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director at Human Rights Watch, says: “These brutal abuses are not isolated incidents by rogue officers, but rather the result of systemic shortcomings of the Colombian police.”

Canada’s interventions

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

That comment was quickly followed by: “We welcome the Government of Colombia’s commitment to fully investigate and hold accountable those who may be guilty of violating human rights during these events.”

By July 14, when Garneau met with Colombian Vice-President Marta Lucía Ramírez the readout from that call noted a more generic statement: “Minister Garneau emphasized Canada’s concerns regarding violence in Colombia, both in the context of social protests and against social leaders and ex-combatants working to implement peace.”

Garneau then repeated his message from 10 weeks earlier and “called on Colombia to keep its commitment to fully investigate and hold anyone who has violated human rights to account for their actions.”

And yet there are clear indications that the Government of Colombia has not followed up in an urgent and timely manner and held police accountable for violations.

On October 26, 2021, Mélanie Joly replaced Marc Garneau as Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. We look forward to statements from her on the urgency of this matter especially in her first meeting with Colombian government officials.

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