EL ESPECTADOR, July 7, 2021


(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH in Spanish) was an opportunity for the national government to continue offering bridges and showing that it was open to recognizing reasonable inquiries. In contrast, the Presidential Palace chose to misinterpret the recommendations, deny the necessity of international accompaniment, and to keep on barricading themselves in their official version. It’s a shame that they see the Commission as an enemy, when the only thing it did was to take notice of what was evident and suggest solutions.

The governing party doesn’t have much confidence in international entities. We know that. Because of what we’ve read in the declarations of several Parliaments, and even what could be glimpsed in the presentations by the Ambassador to the Organization of American States, Alejandro Ordóñez. Nevertheless, it’s too bad that now the Iván Duque administration, the defender and advocate of regional diplomatic discourse, falls into the same game.

In response to the Commission’s recommendations, President Iván Duque said that, “nobody can recommend to a country that it tolerate criminal actions.” In the report, of course, none of the recommendations aim to be permissive of criminal actions. In fact, there is a call for investigation of the more than 1,660 damages done to private property, and the CIDH expressed its concern about the fires started at the Palace of Justice in Tuluá, at the Institute of Legal Medicine in Popayán, and at the Governor’s Office in Nariño, as well as the Mayor’s Office in La Plata. How can this be read as complacency about criminal acts?

Besides that, what’s curious is that the Commission didn’t say anything that we didn’t already know here in Colombia. It spoke of the use of excessive force and the use of non-lethal artifacts that produced serious injuries and mutilations. It spoke of the need to reform the work of the Police. It spoke of the 7,020 arrests of people using the concept of “transported for protection” and how that tool had been used to intimidate. It spoke of 236 attacks on members of the press, more than half of those (54.1%) committed by the Armed Forces. It spoke of the need to improve the means of access to justice, especially for vulnerable populations. And it spoke of the problems that arise from the inconsistency between official data and statistics compiled by civil society.

That means that the CIDH said what had already been revealed in the press and by national reports. Neither can its comments be read to support crime or to judge the government in a biased manner; on the contrary, the language and the thoroughness employed by the Commission are an open-handed way to work on the recovery of confidence in our institutions. That’s why it’s so strange that the President’s Office received it with such hostility.

The Commission’s work is to provide minimum standards for the implementation of human rights in the member countries. This is the opposite of supporting criminality. Its proposal to create a special mechanism to monitor human rights for Colombia would be a great help to this country. Nevertheless, the Foreign Ministry refused it, saying that local authorities are sufficient. When they did that, you could hear the echo of the other governments in the region that have closed their doors to international verifiers. It’s the wrong attitude.

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