The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights finally arrived in Colombia late on Sunday, where it was received by protesters cheering for its visit. The international body will begin its mission on Tuesday to verify complaints of rights abuses by the security forces. This Monday he met with the Colombian authorities prior to starting his work.
This is the most acclaimed visit since the beginning of the social outbreak in Colombia. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) arrived in Bogotá, the capital, on Sunday, where it was received by protesters with placards of gratitude for its trip, as well as with complaints of human rights violations at the hands of the security forces in the framework of of the mobilizations. “Duke stop the massacre. Welcome IACHR, ”read one of the posters.
The South American country has been mired for more than 40 days in the largest social mobilizations in its recent history, which began on April 28. Some marches that have spread from the beginning throughout much of the Colombian territory and that, although they have lost strength in recent days, do not show signs of abating.
Although the National Strike demonstrations have been mostly peaceful, they have been clouded by reports of abuses and excesses of force by the National Police and the ESMAD (Mobile Anti-Riot Squad), leaving more than 45 dead at the hands of officials and nearly 4,000 reported cases of police abuse, according to the latest report from local NGO Tremors. For its part, Human Rights Watch reports at least 61 deaths, most of them civilians, and two in uniform.
The conversations to get out of the crisis, stalled
For this reason, the presence of the IACHR in the country is essential for the protesters, who have been denouncing abuses for weeks while exercising their right to protest. But also because more than a month after the start of the strike, the talks between the Executive of Iván Duque and the National Unemployment Committee are completely stagnant and at a standstill.
Last Sunday, June 6, the Unemployment Committee – which includes mostly unions, student organizations and other sectors of society, but for which many protesters in the streets say they are not represented – announced the unilateral suspension of the dialogues with the Government, alleging that the Colombian authorities “delay the negotiations of the emergency document” because “they do not want to negotiate it.” For this reason, he called a new National Strike day for Wednesday, June 9.
“This is a dialogue without results, it is a mock dialogue and if the Government does not honor the pre-agreements with its signature, then we are simply not only facing a delay, but a lack of compliance with agreements and for that reason we decided to suspend the negotiation ”, explained Fabio Arias, a member of the Committee.
⚠️ ATTENTION ⚠️
Faced with the failure of the government to sign the pre-agreement of guarantees, the National Unemployment Committee decides to suspend negotiation
June 6, 2021 pic.twitter.com/wxIWxGoaSZ
– Central Unitary of Workers #ParoNacional (@cutcolombia) June 7, 2021
While reports of human rights abuses continue, the IACHR’s visit throws a halo of hope to the protesters and, above all, to the families of the victims. “For the protesters, the fact that an international, independent and autonomous body is coming to issue a series of recommendations to the State is a step in the right direction and will help mitigate the crisis,” the Colombian think tank explained to EFE. Of Justice.
Mission of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
After weeks of rejection and evasions from the Duque Executive, international pressure and the Colombian streets were stronger. The conservative Colombian president accepted the entry of the IACHR into the nation, which will carry out a mission from June 7 to 11. A visit of just three days, which will include a trip to Cali –in the southwest of the country– the epicenter of the protests, where the most violent episodes of police brutality have been experienced.
Although the expected arrival of the IACHR has been applauded by national and international rights organizations, it is a working visit on the ground and not a visit in loco. The main difference is its duration, in this case much more limited and with less presence of the commissioners of the agency.
What’s more, as explained from DeJusticia, During the working visit, a final report is not produced, “but general observations are delivered and a press release is issued with a series of recommendations addressed to the State,” so their work is more limited.
DeJusticia researchers and analysts issued some recommendations that the IACHR could pass on to the Duque government, aimed at guaranteeing the rights and freedoms of Colombians to protest peacefully, promoting a dialogue with all sectors of civil society, but also to listen to the voices of the victims and offer them a recognition that has not yet been given from the institutions.
What, then, is expected of the IACHR’s presence in Colombia?
During the mission, the international body will verify the complaints of human rights violations, listening to the testimonies of the victims, but it will also review the reports of the Colombian legal authorities. The work team is led by the President of the IACHR, Antonia Urrejola, who this same Monday met with the Colombian Foreign Minister, Marta Lucía Ramírez.
“The purpose of this hearing is that the control entities, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office and the Office of the Ombudsman can deliver to the commissioners (IACHR), which has been the action of each of these entities, to deliver a report of what has been happening in Colombia as of April 28 ”, explained the one who until a few weeks ago was the vice president of the country, who met with the organization during her visit to Washington at the end of May.
We are a country with a solid institutional framework, respectful of democratic values and human rights. Under that slogan, today we receive the @CIDH, who will advance his work visit in 🇨🇴. We have asked that all the voices of those affected in the midst of the strike be heard. pic.twitter.com/8ivXb5cH9E
– Marta Lucía Ramírez (@mluciaramirez) June 7, 2021
The delegation of the Washington-based body received a report from the Prosecutor’s Office on Monday, after a face-to-face meeting with Attorney General Francisco Barbosa and Deputy Prosecutor Martha Mancera, in which they relate in 35 pages the details of how the investigations into violent events during protests in criminal matters. According to the Colombian media El Espectador, the accusing report “revealed that between April 28 and June 5 there have been 51 deaths, of which 21 are due to situations that link the demonstrations.”
Official figures lower than those reported by national and international human rights organizations and protesters, who have frequently videotaped and posted the violence against them on social media, material that will serve as evidence and will also be presented. before the IACHR.
More than 90 disappeared in the framework of the protests
In addition to the wounded and deceased, the Colombian authorities are still looking for 91 people who have been reported missing during the mobilizations, according to the latest data from the Ombudsman’s Office. It also issued a 110-page document with more than 400 complaints for alleged human rights violations, of which 73% were responsible for the forces of order.
Once the work visit is concluded, all the information received will be analyzed, and the next public statement will be issued, containing observations and recommendations that seek to collaborate in strengthening the institutional framework in #DDHH, he specified @ totonia68. #CIDHEnColombia 4
– IACHR – IACHR (@CIDH) June 8, 2021
This Tuesday the activities of the IACHR mission begin for three days in which mobilizations are expected and various activities have been called to receive and transfer complaints from the street to the commission.
Shortly before his arrival, President Iván Duque announced a “profound transformation” of the National Police with an adequate focus on human rights. However, this body will continue to depend on the Ministry of Defense and its members will continue to be judged by military and not civilian bodies, contrary to one of the demands of the social protests.
With EFE and local media