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News > Colombia

Colombia's Police Used Bus Stations as Detention Centers

  • Members of the anti-riot squad ESMAD repress citizens, Bogota, Colombia, June 2021.

    Members of the anti-riot squad ESMAD repress citizens, Bogota, Colombia, June 2021. | Photo: Twitter/ @giosiva

Published 7 June 2021

TransMilenio's facilities in Bogota were even used as a heliport for police operations.

In response to a petition filed by Bogota's councilman Diego Cancino, TransMilenio confirmed that the Mobile Anti-Riot Squadron (ESMAD) used its stations as centers for the detention of citizens during the National Strike.


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TransMilenio is a rapid transit bus system that serves Bogota with raised-floor stations distributed along the main routes. According to information provided by the company's manager, police detained 4 protesters at the Suba station on May 19 and 10 citizens at the Americas station between May 3 and 4.

In its response to the councilman, however, the transport company "thanked" the police for the work done in "the current context of instability resulting from social mobilization."

These statements generated controversy as the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission revealed that 1,425 people have been injured by ESMAD so far.

This Commission has compiled information on 20 cases of torture, 12 cases of sexual violence, 16 eye injuries, and 68 illegal detentions.

Also, human rights defenders denounced 2 homicides that occurred in the vicinity of the so-called "Resistencia Station."

While the transport company acknowledged that the Police did not receive explicit consent for the use of the stations as detention centers, Councilman Cancino recalled that TransMilenio maintains silence in the face of other illegal actions. Among these is the landing of a Halcon helicopter inside the Americas station on the night of May 4.


Diego Cancino
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