IACHR-CIDH warns of “structural violence” faced by human rights defenders in Colombia

Published by Brent Patterson on

PBI-Colombia with the IACHR-CIDH, June 2021.

On June 3, PBI-Colombia tweeted:

“Annual Report of @CIDH highlights very high rates of impunity in serious violations of #human rights in #Colombia and points out the clear use of excessive force by State security agents, see report: http://bit.ly/3x9c9tc @USEmbassyBogota @CanadayColombia.”

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR-CIDH) chapter specifically on Colombia can also be read here. It highlights:

“The Commission reiterates its concern about the persistence of structural violence in Colombia, and the effects specifically faced by human rights defenders and social leaders, as well as the impact on groups whose human rights have been historically and structurally violated, such as indigenous peoples, Afro-Colombians, peasants, children and adolescents, women and LGBTI people.”

It also notes:

“The IACHR received serious allegations of the indiscriminate use of firearms against demonstrators and people who were not participating in the protests, especially in Cali (southeast) and different municipalities in Valle del Cauca (west), as well as in Pereira, Risaralda department (central west). The reports received to indicate the use of this type of weaponry allegedly by some members of the security forces, some of whom are not fully identified. The Commission also received extremely worrying information about the possible actions of armed persons dressed in civilian clothes.”

“The IACHR reiterates its concern about the differences in the numbers of victims recorded by the State and the situations documented by civil society. It also considers that these inconsistencies can generate distrust of citizens in the authorities. For this reason, it is an obligation of the State to maintain a consistent, up-to-date and public record of information.”

“The IACHR considers that the handling of such disparate records and hypotheses about, for example, people killed or injured in the context of the protests, generates an obstacle in the access to justice of people who claim to be victims of human rights violations. In any scenario, the size of the figures reflected in the various reports is of extreme concern to the Commission, so it reiterates its condemnation emphatically, as well as reinforces the call for the State to diligently investigate all the facts denounced. The Commission recalls that impunity contributes to the reproduction of these acts.”

You can also read about the IACHR-CIDH report in El Espectador.

The IACHR-CIDH visit to Colombia

Last year, an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights delegation was in Colombia on a three-day (June 8-10, 2021) working visit to assess the human rights situation.

France 24 commented: “The presence of the IACHR in the country becomes essential for the demonstrators, who have been denouncing abuses for weeks during the exercise of their right to protest.”

On June 11, 2021, PBI-Colombia tweeted: “Last night the CIDH was in the Portal Resistencia hearing directly from youth initiatives and human rights organizations including the Justice and Peace Commission that accompany in the humanitarian space.”

Publimetro had reported: “The IACHR will visit the Portal de la Resistencia (Americas) to hear from demonstrators.”

El Tiempo further noted: “The delegates toured the place on foot, escorted by citizens who usually participate in the protests and those who were participating in the dialogue table.”


The Embassy of Canada in Colombia has not yet commented on the IACHR-CIDH report.

Last month, PBI-Colombia accompanied Association for Research and Social Action (Nomadesc) and victims of police violence at meetings with Ambassador Marianick Tremblay.

The Embassy also tweeted:

“In her meeting with the Archbishop of Cali @arzobispodecali, Ambassador @MarianickT discussed the social impacts of the 2021 protests on Cali, the humanitarian crisis in the Pacific region and the violence against Indigenous leaders in Cauca.”

But significantly, just this week Nomadesc tweeted:

“We Colombians do not want more weapons, no more massacres, no more disappearances, no more threats, no more fear. #StopTheGenocide. We demand truth, justice and guarantees of non-repetition. Don’t send us any more weapons. That has made them accomplices of Barbarism.”

This comes amid a report of a major sale of Canadian-manufactured military equipment to Colombia.

On May 20, Infodefensa.com reported: “Yesterday, May 19, the Colombian Government, through the Ministry of Defense, approved the purchase of 50 General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) 8×8 LAV III DVH armored vehicles.”

The article adds: “The LAV III DVH is manufactured by the [London, Ontario-based] Canadian subsidiary of General Dynamics Land Systems.”

Last month, Al Jazeera also reported: “Local environmental defenders and a representative of the JEP [the Special Jurisdiction for Peace extrajudicial court] told Al Jazeera that they suspected a connection between the paramilitary groups intimidating them and the state-owned Ecopetrol, which is behind the fracking project. The company has been accused of having ties with the Gulf Clan specifically.”

Today, the Canadian Embassy described Ecopetrol as a private sector ally.

We continue to follow this situation.

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