The OHCHR report found that the Colombian police did nothing to detain armed civilians who attacked and shot at citizens during the massive protests that took place between April 28 and July 31.
On Wednesday, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) published a report demonstrating that the Colombian State must urgently reform its way of handling protests so as to avoid massive human rights violations.
The report entitled "The 2021 National Strike: Lessons for the Exercise of the Right of Peaceful Assembly in Colombia" exhaustively analyzes the behavior of security forces during the social uprising that began in April and continued for months amid the economic crisis prompted by the President Ivan Duque's neoliberal policies.
Between April 28 and July 31, the OHCHR received reports of the deaths of 63 people that occurred in the context of the protests. To date, the Office has verified 44 killings of civilians and two deaths of police officers. In 76 percent of the cases, the victims died from gunshot wounds.
Based on verified information, the OHCHR holds there are reasonable grounds to assert that the Police were responsible for at least 28 of these deaths, while non-state actors were linked to 10 cases. The report also highlights that the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) was responsible for at least 10 out of the 28 deaths directly attributed to police actions.
Peasant worker community in Bolivar, #Colombia brutally attacked today by ESMAD cops after protesting destruction of their land by oil company Ecopetrol. 3 ppl seriously injured. It’s now govt, corporations & cops v ppl & the planet. Which side are you on? pic.twitter.com/zqqdydLvFn— GhostofDurruti (@RobTheRich0001) November 14, 2021
Besides highlighting that ESMAD used force unnecessarily or disproportionately to disperse peaceful protests, the OHCHR report confirms that the Colombian police did nothing to detain armed civilians who attacked and shot at citizens.
Investigators also found evidence of violations of international standards that occurred when police indiscriminately and inappropriately used less lethal weapons against defenseless protesters.
Finally, the OHCHR report recommends that State agents and armed civilian attackers be subjected to "prompt, effective, exhaustive, independent, impartial, and transparent investigations." International human rights defenders also demand that the Colombian State guarantee the victims' right to full reparation.