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Concluding Observations, CAT/C/COL/CO/5, 12 May 2015: Colombia

Principal areas of concern and recommendations

Human rights defenders and other representatives of civil society who are at risk

26. The Committee condemns the killings of numerous human rights defenders, trade unionists and journalists during the reporting period. It is concerned by reports of attacks, death threats and other forms of intimidation directed at community leaders; teachers; indigenous and Afro-Colombian leaders; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual activists; representatives of displaced persons; and activists involved in land restitution processes. While taking note of the measures adopted by the State party to prevent these types of attacks and protect the life and ensure the physical safety of human rights defenders and other representatives of civil society, the Committee finds it regrettable that most of the investigations into such acts that have been opened have not produced any results. The Committee is also concerned by reports of public statements made by senior government officials and military leaders in which they have accused human rights defenders of collusion with armed groups, thereby putting them in harm’s way. Finally, the Committee welcomes the conviction of senior officials for abuses committed by the Colombian intelligence service, including, in particular, illegal spying on human rights defenders, journalists, politicians and judges (arts. 2, 12, 13 and 16).

In the light of its preceding final conclusions (CAT/C/COL/CO/4, para. 23), the Committee urges the State party to:

(a) Ensure that journalists, trade unionists, human rights defenders and other representatives of civil society are shielded from acts of intimidation and violence to which they may be exposed because of their activities;

(b) Ensure that all incidents involving threats or aggression directed at journalists, human rights defenders, trade unionists, community leaders and other representatives of civil society are promptly investigated in an impartial manner.

Violence committed on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity

27. The Committee is concerned by reports of police brutality directed at women transsexuals and other persons because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Committee is also concerned by reports that homophobic crimes, particularly in the form of sexual assault and murders of gay men and transsexual women, are frequent in the State party (arts. 2, 12, 13 and 16).

The State party should:

(a) Safeguard the physical integrity of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons who are in police custody and ensure that they are treated with dignity;

(b) Ensure that murders and assaults motivated by a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity are investigated and that the persons responsible are brought to justice;

(c) Provide mandatory training to law enforcement officers on the prosecution of cases involving the commission of acts of violence motivated by a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Link to full text of the report: Concluding Observations-CAT-Colombia-2015-eng