The ICJ and the Colombian Commission of Jurists today jointly addressed the UN Human Rights Council in the Interactive Dialogues on the Reports of the UN Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions and the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.
The statement reads as follows:
The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the Colombian Commission of Jurists (CCJ) welcome the Special Rapporteur’s report.
We deplore the widespread human rights violations committed in the context of the ongoing social protests in Colombia, including reports of unnecessary and disproportionate use of force by police officers. The High Commissioner reported her Office had recorded the death of 54 civilians in the context of the protests. International and local human rights organizations stated that State agents allegedly killed at least 27 persons, and there are cases where armed civilians, possibly acting with the acquiescence of State agents, could be responsible for several killings.
The Colombian authorities must conduct independent and impartial investigations in all cases of potentially unlawful deaths within the ordinary criminal jurisdiction.
We also condemn the deployment of military forces as a strategy to maintain public order during demonstrations because their participation contributes to the escalation of violence against protestors and communities.
We urge the Colombian authorities to grant access for a visit by the Special Rapporteur and call on the Council to encourage Colombia to receive the visit from the Rapporteur with a view to bringing Colombia into compliance with its obligations to protect and guarantee the rights to life and freedom of assembly of all persons during the protests.
The statement to the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association reads as follows:
The Colombian Commission of Jurists and the International Commission of Jurists condemn the violent acts committed during the ongoing protests in Colombia. Between 28 April and 22 June 2021, civil society organizations have documented at least 27 killings reportedly committed by police officers; 17 cases of sexual assault against women; and 1.677 people injured due to the disproportionate and unnecessary use of force by State agents, including 80 people who sustained eye injuries. More than 3.000 people have been detained, most of them arbitrarily. In addition, some of those arrested or detained have been subjected to torture or other ill-treatment. In contravention of international standards, the military justice system is seized of investigating many human rights violations reportedly committed by the police.
It is of grave concern that the government’s response to the protests has involved the militarization of parts of the country, bypassing local authorities, resorting to a modus operandi witnessed during armed conflict. In addition, the authorities have failed to entertain any negotiation to address the protesters’ demands. Moreover, the Colombian authorities have failed to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling directing the adoption of measures to guarantee the right to protest. On the contrary, the domestic regulations have been modified to justify repression and criminalization of the protests.
In the light of the above, it is urgent that the Human Rights Council calls on Colombia to allow the visit of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association.
Massimo Frigo, ICJ UN Representative, e: massimo.frigo(a)icj.org, t: +41797499949AdvocacyNon-legal submissions