First modification: 07/01/2021 – 00:03
At least two journalists were attacked by agents of the Police Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (Esmad), which the authorities recognized as an “excessive use of force”. The events occurred while reporters were covering the protests on Tuesday, June 29, against the Colombian government in the capital, Bogotá.
Alexandra Molina and Katty Sánchez, journalists from the Colombian radio station RCN Radio, were doing reporting this Tuesday in the Suba sector, in the northwest of Bogotá, when they were kicked and pushed by members of the Police, according to images that quickly went viral on social media.
Members of the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad tried to disperse a demonstration after, at an event in this popular town, President Iván Duque and the mayor of Bogotá, Claudia López, presented the studies for the second line of the capital’s subway.
After the act, clashes broke out between a group of protesters and the police force, which is the subject of multiple complaints about excessive use of force, especially during the days of the national strike that began more than two months ago.
The uniformed men were separated from their positions, according to the commander of the Bogotá Metropolitan Police, General Óscar Gómez Heredia, who described the action as “unacceptable.”
Faced with unacceptable action by members of the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad this Tuesday in #Suba, the Commander of the Metropolitan Police of Bogotá announces the first decisions on this case, which has been prioritized by the Institution. We will not tolerate human rights violations. pic.twitter.com/CrZjT1dweh
– Metropolitan Police of Bogotá (@PoliciaBogota) June 29, 2021
The head of state, Iván Duque, acknowledged for his part that the uniformed men exceeded the use of force and announced the beginning of a formal investigation, although he reiterated his support for the institution, which has already been indicated by international organizations of committing abuses against protesters.
To our police officers, all the support, but also all the demands. Before the actions of members of the @PoliceColombia that they exceeded the use of force in the town of Suba, the institution immediately began the formal investigation.
– Iván Duque 🇨🇴 (@IvanDuque) June 30, 2021
During the protests, a group of protesters also stoned the car in which the Minister of Transport, Ángela María Orozco, was mobilized, who was unharmed.
President Duque proposes “anti-vandalism law”
After declaring once again his support for the Police and hours after the attack on members of the press, President Iván Duque called on the Congress of the Republic to legislate on the actions of the protesters during the protests.
What he called “anti-vandalism and anti-riot law” is, according to the head of state, a tool that will allow “to clearly differentiate before society what peaceful protest is and should be from any form of violence.”
“Vandalism, riots and low intensity urban terrorism are the main enemies of the right to peaceful protest,” said the president on Wednesday, during the promotion ceremony of the Director General of the Police, Jorge Luis Vargas.
The president has spent weeks defending his theory that the protests against his mandate are influenced by “vandals” and “urban terrorists” and has mentioned that they are financed by drug trafficking organizations, although he has not presented any proof of this and the protesters allege that it is a way to stigmatize them.
The Constitution claims rights, but we must talk about duties. Rights cannot be demanded by violating those of the other. For this reason, I invite Congress to work on an anti-vandalism and anti-riot law, so that those who ignore the rights of Colombians do not go unpunished. pic.twitter.com/bc78gRj5eY
– Iván Duque 🇨🇴 (@IvanDuque) June 30, 2021
The demonstrations in Colombia, which began on April 28, have left dozens of deaths, although the figure varies according to the source. Human rights organizations such as Indepaz and Temblores NGO speak of 74 fatalities, at least 20 of them by shots from the Police. International organizations such as Human Rights Watch and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights say that there are between 51 and 63 dead; although the Government links 25 deaths to the protests, only three due to action by the uniformed.
With EFE and local media