Bogota, Colombia- The Colombian government used “excessive and disproportionate” force during this period Mass protest Earlier this year, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) stated in a long-awaited report released on Wednesday.
IACHR is an autonomous agency of the Organization of American States. It calls on South American countries to carry out structural reforms to their militarized police forces, which are accused of being Committed “serious” abuse Oppose the protesters.
“The national response is characterized by excessive and disproportionate use of force, in many cases including lethal force,” IACHR Chairman Antonia Urejola said at a press conference.
A protest called Paro Nacional broke out in April to resist Controversial tax reform bill And the inequality caused by the epidemic.
After basically peaceful demonstrations led to severe suppression by the police force, the protests moved quickly Expanded as a response to state violence, Lasted for several months in this South American country.
Human Rights Watch confirmed that 34 people (mainly protesters and civilian bystanders) were killed in the protests. Other militant groups believe that the death toll is higher.
Other alleged human rights violations, including sexual abuse by riot police, enforced disappearances and multiple injuries, prompted a visit by the human rights team in early June.
The highly critical IACHR report was released after a detailed investigation of the state’s response to the protests. It included testimonies from more than 500 people, including government officials, human rights defenders, and victims of violence in protest hotspots. Cali city And Bogota.
The commission recorded the indiscriminate use of guns by law enforcement agencies to deal with Protesters and civilians Do not participate in protests, gender-based violence, and violence against journalists and medical staff.
It also called President Ivan DuqueThe government investigates abuse of power and protects the right to protest.
The report was welcomed by international observers such as Jimena Sanchez-Gazzoli, director of the Andes Mountains in Washington’s Latin American Office. He said that the report also refutes Duke and his party’s claims that the protesters are saboteurs and criminals.
“They have been blaming the opposition, blaming everyone, not looking inward,” Sánchez-Garzoli said. “I think this report shows that this attitude is not accepted by the international community.”
The human rights team made more than 40 recommendations to the Colombian government, the most notable of which was to urge it to separate the Colombian police from the country’s military.
Like the military, the Colombian police is also under the jurisdiction of the country’s Ministry of National Defense, which is the product of decades of armed conflict.
But this structure has led to the militarization of law enforcement — especially the riot police ESMAD — which has been severely criticized by the Colombian public and international observers.
Sergio Guzmán, Colombia’s head of risk analysis, said these recommendations “provide credibility for a long-term call for the demilitarization of the police force”.
Guzman said: “In a country in conflict, it makes sense to place all military and police authorities under the same chain of command, but this is not the case today.”
Although Duke has Promised police reform Including increased officer training and different officer discipline standards, Guzman doubted whether the Duke administration would implement many of the recommendations in the report.
The government has rejected some recommendations, and Duke and his party members criticized the report on Wednesday morning, continuing to condemn “acts of vandalism” and “Roadblock Violate the rights of citizens”.
“No one can advise a country to tolerate criminal behavior,” the president told a group of reporters on Tuesday.
Although the protest organizers have Stop the demonstrations temporarilyGuzman predicted that if major changes are not made, there will only be more protests.
“The root causes of people’s protests have not been resolved: unemployment, inequality, corruption, urban poverty,” he said. “Because there is no reform of the police — how the police do their work, how the police handle the protests — this may trigger future riots.