The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights arrived in Colombia this week for a working visit in which it will observe the human rights situation in the framework of the anti-government protests that began on April 28. The visit will run until June 10, the IACHR announced.

The IACHR visit comes after calls from various sectors of the country who denounce human rights violations by the state during the demonstrations, the organization said. In the framework of the protests and blockades that have been going on for more than a month, at least 47 deaths have been registered and there are complaints of police abuse, for which the Police have initiated more than 100 investigations and President Duque has recognized but not as facts “Systematic,” if not isolated.

The IACHR delegation, which arrived in Colombia on June 7, which is led by Commissioner Antonia Urrejola and will meet with various sectors of the country, ranging from authorities such as government representatives, representatives of the legislative and judicial branches, as well as well as with control entities and representatives of civil society organizations, groups, groups, unions and other representatives of sectors affected by the protests.

“Special efforts will be made to listen to the victims of human rights violations and their families to receive testimonies, complaints and communications,” the IACHR said in a statement on June 4.

What the IACHR will do in Colombia

The president of the IACHR, Commissioner Antonia Urrejola, told journalists this Monday, at the beginning of the visit, that they will be collecting information from all sectors and then commenting on the situation in the country.

“One of the fundamental issues that we are going to see during the visit is the situation of the blockades and the right to social protest, it is one of the issues that will be central and later we will express ourselves in the statement next week.” Commissioner Urrejola told reporters in Bogotá this Monday.

Regarding the scope of the IACHR in the country, the commissioner said that she hopes to receive information from various sectors and then make a statement.

“We are precisely here to see those complaints that you yourself are pointing out and due to responsibility we have to not only receive the complaints but also talk with all the actors, receive all the information, evaluate it and later pronounce ourselves more definitively,” he added, saying that the victims they can wait for the pronouncement once all the information has been analyzed.

Starting this Tuesday, the IACHR delegation will have several meetings in Bogotá and Cali, the epicenter of the protests, to begin observations of human rights violations in the framework of the protests that have taken place in Colombia since April 28.

The agenda in Bogotá includes meetings with President Ivan Duque; representatives of various ministries; also from the Ministry of Defense and the National Police, Commissioner Urrejola announced on Twitter. In the afternoon, he will have thematic meetings with civil society.

In Cali they will meet with the Municipal Council, with Legal Medicine, with the Commission for the Clarification of the Truth, coexistence and non-repetition. Also with the National Search Unit for persons considered missing. They will also meet with civil society.

Unemployment in Colombia and the blockades

The IACHR insisted on its call for dialogue between the parties that advance the strike and blockades in the country, and said that they will meet with the National Strike Committee on June 10 in the afternoon.

“I believe that the Commission is not responsible for ruling on the dialogue process of those actors,” said the commissioner. However, he insisted that “the Commission always in the face of different human rights crises, we have always insisted that the only solution is through dialogue and our call is to Colombians to seek all alternatives for dialogue both locally and at the national level”.

According to the IACHR, “once the work visit is over, all the information received will be analyzed, and the next public statement will be issued, containing observations and recommendations that seek to help strengthen the human rights institutions,” Urrejola said.

The union leaders that make up the Unemployment Committee (CNP) announced this Sunday the unilateral suspension of negotiations with the government of President Iván Duque due, as they said, “to the government’s failure to sign the pre-agreement of guarantees on May 24”.

The Unemployment Committee also assured that the government “is not interested and that it has purposely delayed the negotiation of the emergency document”.

The union leaders insist that, on May 24, they reached a preliminary agreement with 34 measures to guarantee the mobilizations, “which the Government undid on May 29, proposing regressive changes in practically the entire text.”

The Committee also requests that the Government repeal a decree that authorizes military deployment in cities where public order is disturbed on account of the excesses in the protests.

Faced with this decision, the National Government reported that it reaffirms its desire for dialogue and that it sees a great responsibility in ensuring the guarantees of peaceful protest.

The government spokesman in the dialogue and presidential adviser for Stabilization and Consolidation, Emilio Archila, today accused the CNP of having “left the country in default of solutions and without having condemned the blockades”, while they were willing to “arrive at a text of guarantees and, above all, to address the issues of the specifications”, which the Committee presented with demands such as a basic income or guarantees to demonstrate.

Regarding the pre-agreement of guarantees referred to by the Unemployment Committee, the Government stated that “this text was never intended to be signed in this way, but rather it was a draft to continue the work.”

The controversy over the IACHR’s visit

At the end of May, the IACHR asked the Colombian State to receive the Commission’s visit at the request of organizations and human rights defenders.

The Vice President and Foreign Minister Marta Lucía Ramírez was criticized at that time for statements in which she said that she accepted the IACHR’s visit, but that it should be awaited for the investigations of the Colombian control entities on the alleged irregularities and violations in around the protests.

“We consider that all visits are welcome, but at this moment we consider that we have to wait for the control bodies themselves – the Prosecutor’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, the Comptroller’s Office and the Ombudsman’s Office – to finish doing their homework and organizing in the course of the coming weeks so that any of the visits —that of the Secretary (OAS General, Luis Almagro) as well as that of the IACHR”, Ramírez told reporters in Washington on May 24.

Days later, the chancellor and vice president said that it was the IACHR itself that set the date of June 29 for a hearing to “evaluate the information they requested from the Attorney General’s Office, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Comptroller’s Office.”

“I don’t know where you get that they haven’t been allowed,” Ramírez told reporters in Washington on May 26.

“They were invited, they were told that they were welcome. The date of June 29 was set by them and we told them that we are ready for this visit. If they want to anticipate the hearing on June 29 and do it tomorrow, they anticipate the hearing, we have no problem with them coming the next day.

The IACHR announced last week that it decided to cancel that hearing scheduled for June 29, and so the visit was advanced to this week. The Commission thanked the Colombian State in a statement for “its willingness to receive her in the country.”

Categorized in: