PBI-Colombia meets with the Basque Delegation for the Observation of Human Rights in Colombia

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On January 29, the Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project tweeted: “We appreciate the solidarity, support and commitment to peace in Colombia manifested by #DelegaciónVascaDeObservación [Basque Observation Delegation] of #DDHH [human rights] who denounces the increase in violence and worsening of the conflict, and urges the implementation of effective protection measures. Read full statement.”

The Basque delegation included the Deputy Minister of Human Rights, Memory and Cooperation and six representatives of the Basque Parliament. The Basque Government is the governing body of the Basque Autonomous Community of Spain.

Excerpts from their statement include:

“The Deputy Minister of Human Rights, Memory and Cooperation of the Basque Government, José Antonio Rodríguez Ranz, led a Human Rights Observation Delegation in Colombia between 23 and 29 January, within the framework of the Basque Programme for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.

After the meetings held, the testimonies received and the documentation previously analyzed, the Basque Delegation shows its SUPPORT and SOLIDARITY with human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, black people and peasant communities, the main victims of violence and conflict.

The Delegation recognizes the commitment to peacebuilding of these individuals and groups and claims their right to the legitimate exercise of the use of social protest as a tool for social and political transformation.

The Delegation expressly DENOUNCES the increase in violence and the intensification of the conflict, which translates into greater harassment, massacres, murders, threats, massive forced displacement of rural communities and human rights defenders.

In 10 years of the Program, after several follow-up visits to the country, it is the first time that we cannot access the territories. In the same way, the security conditions are not in place to guarantee the entry of international organizations and control entities. All this is a clear example of the insecurity experienced by ethnic communities and human rights defenders.

In a context of massive and peaceful mobilizations in the country, which had a military treatment by the Colombian Government, the delegation expresses its concern about the criminalization of protest that may be aggravated by the recently approved Citizen Security Law, increasing the risk of judicial set-ups against the people who took part in the mobilizations, mainly young people who came out peacefully to vindicate their basic rights.

The most affected territories are those in which there is a greater presence of illegal economies (mining, expansion of illicit crops…). We consider necessary the integral institutional presence in the territories, beyond the exclusively military presence.

The lack of implementation of the Peace Agreements, signed in 2016 to overcome the conflict, is at the base of the humanitarian crisis that the country is going through and that has been confirmed by this Delegation.

The electoral context of the first half of the year is generating an increase in violence against human rights defenders. Of particular concern is the attempt to block, through violence, the access of victims to the House of Representatives through the 16 Special Transitional Peace Constituencies and the Special Seats of ethnic minorities.”

The recommendations from the delegation included: “Strengthen and advance in the implementation of prevention and collective protection mechanisms, and make visible and value the work of defenders; specifically the recognition and strengthening of the mechanisms of protection and territorial control typical of ethnic groups: Indigenous guards and [Afro-Colombian] guards.”

The full statement from the delegation can be read here. The statement from the delegation prior to their trip to Colombia can also be read here.

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