The International Association of Democratic Lawyers expresses its grave concerns regarding the Colombian Government’s ongoing brutal repression of Colombians exercising their legitimate right to protest.
On 28 April 2021, the Colombian people took to the streets to demand just living conditions, against the tax reforms of the Government of Iván Duque and in favour of a country which enjoys peace with social justice. Since then, the country finds itself in the midst of an indefinite national strike taking place across its territory.
The response of the Colombian Government has been the brutal repression of people who are legitimately exercising their right to protest to demand a dignified life and respect of human rights. According to human rights groups accompanying the mobilisation in Colombia, in 15 days of protests and mobilisations more than 50 people have been reported as murdered, 689 injured, 435 disappeared, more than 1,350 detained and many instances of sexual violence carried out by the state security services, with a multitude of video evidence filmed in cities across the country available which leave no room for doubt as to the allegations. This footage shows state security services using firearms against the population, similar to the actions of heavily armed paramilitary groups who repress violently and indiscriminately.
We express our concerns and urgently remind the Colombian Government that it is its responsibility and obligation to protect and guarantee Human Rights, including the right to life and personal security, and to guarantee the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly. We demand the bringing to light of all the acts of violence perpetrated by the state security services and that the corresponding responsibility be attributed to state security service officials and government officials who have given the orders for such acts. In equal measure, we express our solidarity with all those affected by the brutal criminalisation of these protests.
Once again we should affirm that the reforms contained in the Peace Agreement were conceived for the whole of Colombian society and, especially, in favour of the interests, living conditions and working conditions of the humble and dispossessed. We are convinced that an effective fulfilment of the Peace Agreement would guarantee that many of the demands made in these city mobilisations would be met.
As such, we call upon the National Government, headed by Iván Duque, to end the massacre, and begin round table discussions that attend and respond to the demands of the Colombian population. The criminalisation and militarised treatment of social protest is not the solution. We also invite the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to pay close attention to the current situation in Colombia, as there is strong evidence to suggest that International Crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court have been committed, and will continue to be committed, by state security services. Finally, we invite the international community to remain alert to the precarious situation in Colombia and raise awareness of the protestors demands for peace with social justice.