EL HERALDO, January 13, 2022
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
Human Rights Watch states that neither is there a “legal framework” that would contribute to providing justice for their violations of human rights.
During a year in which the protests lasted for months in the streets of Colombia, and left 84 killed, 25 of which were killed by the Police, Human Rights Watch (HRW), in its annual report issued this week, has criticized the government because it “still has not adopted significant measures to reform its police force.”
In the protests that began on April 28 and extended until June, where dozens of thousands of people demonstrated their social dissatisfaction in cities in this country, the “Police officials repeatedly and arbitrarily dispersed the peaceful demonstrations and used excessive force, frequently brutal force, including live fire and sexual violence,” points out the report that was published today.
Besides producing arbitrary arrests, there have been several cases of sexual assault, dozens of eye injuries, and reports of tortures and mistreatment, as the report points out, in events that not only HRW, but also international organizations, have been denouncing for months.
After the protests, the government announced a reform of the Police—a body that in Colombia continues to be entirely military—and that the opposition called merely cosmetic.
HRW claims that now, more than half a year after the protests, the government “still has not adopted significant measures to reform its forces.”
Neither, HRW insists, is there “a legal framework that could contribute to doing justice for the human rights violations.”
Social leaders continue to be unprotected. In the report, HRW states that, in spite of the signing of the Peace Agreement in 2016 between the government and the FARC guerrillas, “the violence related to the conflict has taken new forms and the abuses by armed groups, including murders, massacres, and massive forced displacements, have all increased in remote areas of Colombia in 2021.”
According to statistics from the UN Office for Human Rights, 2020 was the year with the most massacres (76) since 2014, but between January and September of 2021, there were 82.
The UN has pointed out that more than 500 human rights defenders have been murdered in Colombia since 2016, and that at least 290 signers of the Peace Agreement have also lost their lives.
“The measures adopted by the government have been insufficient and inadequate to protect them,” in the opinion of the human rights organization.
“The guerrillas of the ELN have continued to commit war crimes and other abuses against civilians in 2021,” as well as the paramilitaries, the Gaitanista Self-Defense forces of Colombia (AGC) or Clan del Golfo, who are responsible for many of those murders, displacements, and massacres.
HRW has also collected complaints of threats to the independence of the legal system, especially in the case of former President Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010), as “President Iván Duque and other leaders of the governing party, Democratic Center, have made declarations that apparently are trying to defame or intimidate the Court and undermine the legitimacy of its decision.”
And the report praises the progress made by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), the transitional justice system that comes out of the Peace Agreement, for its investigations of war crimes in the conflict and its first decisions to charge prior high officials of the FARC for the crimes of kidnapping, and former members of the military for extrajudicial executions.