PBI highlights to Human Rights Council the lack of progress in investigations of Colombian police violence at protests

Published by Brent Patterson on

On March 8, the Human Rights Council heard High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet present her global update on the situation of human rights worldwide, as well as her Office’s reports on Colombia, Guatemala and Honduras.

Kim-Mai Vu of Peace Brigades International presented these comments about Colombia and Honduras.

She noted: “We draw attention to the recent attack on February 27 against prominent defender Carlos Morales of CAHUCOPANA and his family. The attack occurred despite the precautionary measures of the IACHR of which the defender is a beneficiary. This indicates the insufficiency of these measures, and the lack of progress in comprehensive and collective plans for prevention and protection on the part of the National Protection Unit (UNP).”

PBI-Colombia also drew attention to this in their tweet that says: “#Today Intervention of @PBI_ISEC [PBI international secretariat] at @UN_HRC in #Geneva after the presentation of the Annual Report on #Human Rights in #Colombia by @mbachelet: Serious concern over the attack against president @CAHUCOPANA Northeast of #Antioquia.”

Police violence during national strike protests

This statement signed by PBI and presented by Franciscans International also notes further concerns about the situation in Colombia.

It highlights: “We see a lack of progress and results in the investigations against members of the Police allegedly involved in human rights violations during the protests. All of this in a context where the recently approved ‘National Security Law’ could result in further restrictions on the right to protest and more repressive actions and police abuses.”

Canada’s response to police violence in Colombia

On May 9, 2021, Canada’s then Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau commented on the violence seen during the National Strike in Colombia. At that time, he said: “Canada condemns the violence, including the disproportionate use of force by security forces, and urges that the violence cease.”

Minister Garneau then said: “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, 2021, when the Minister met with Colombian Vice-President Marta Lucía Ramírez the readout from that call noted Garneau repeating his message from 10 weeks earlier that “called on Colombia to keep its commitment to fully investigate and hold anyone who has violated human rights to account for their actions.”

The statement presented today at the United Nations indicates the concern that almost a full year after the National Strike began on April 28, 2021, that Colombia has not held security forces accountable for human rights violations during the national strike.

These concerns have also be raised with Canada. On November 29, 2021, the Canadian Embassy in Colombia met with victims of police violence accompanied by dhColombia and PBI-Colombia. The victims expressed a lack of progress in the processes and the constant threats against them.

We look forward to statements from Mélanie Joly, the current Minister of Foreign Affairs, reflecting the urgency of this matter.


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