United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk presents reports on Colombia, Guatemala and Honduras
On March 7, Volker Türk, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, presented reports on the activities of his Office in Colombia, Guatemala, and Honduras.
His full statement can be read here.
This UN statement summarizes:
“Mr. Türk said regarding Colombia, he visited the country in January and was impressed by the Government’s openness to frank discussion on human rights issues, and its commitment to the full implementation of the 2016 peace agreement. He encouraged the Government to hold meaningful discussions with all affected parties, including women.
In 2022, his Office documented 92 massacres, in which 321 people were killed, and 116 killings of human rights defenders, mainly by non-State actors and criminal groups, which disproportionately affected indigenous and Afro-descendent peoples.
Addressing structural inequalities and causes of conflict, including rural reform, was welcome. He looked forward to the integration of the Truth Commission’s recommendations into policy. He urged the Attorney General’s office to advance accountability for violations reportedly committed by security forces during protests.
Video: Turk on Colombia.
On Guatemala, Mr. Türk said while there had been some progress on social and economic issues over the past year, people continued to face underlying and systemic challenges related to accountability, violence, justice, and other matters.
There was concern for the increase of over 70 per cent of the number of justice officials who experienced harassment.
The Office had registered a 54 per cent increase last year in harassment, intimidation and use or misuse of criminal procedures against human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, human rights organizations, media and journalists. Three human rights defenders and one journalist had been killed.
A number of steps were needed, including to strengthen protection mechanisms for justice officials, ensure the independence of the judiciary, and develop an effective policy, in concert with civil society, for the protection of human rights defenders and civil society members.
Video: Turk on Guatemala
In the case of Honduras, Mr. Türk welcomed the Government’s political will to advance the political agenda. Longstanding structural challenges persisted across the country, including deep-rooted poverty and inequalities; persistent land conflicts; widespread violence, including gender-based violence; impunity; and an extremely dangerous context for human rights defenders and journalists.
Advances made were very welcome, including legislation to address the causes of forced civil displacement and better protect the displaced, and the repeal of all regulations related to the economic and special development zones. No progress had been made on investigating the serious human rights violations of the 1980s. The rights of the indigenous, Afro-Honduran peoples, peasant groups and other historically disadvantaged communities must be respected.”
Video: Turk on Honduras
To follow updates on PBI accompaniments in these countries, please see PBI-Colombia (Website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram), PBI-Guatemala (Website, Facebook) and PBI-Honduras (Website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).