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News > Colombia

OAS Commission Issues Report on Colombian National Strike

  • ESMAD members attack a woman protesting in Cali, Colombia, June, 2021

    ESMAD members attack a woman protesting in Cali, Colombia, June, 2021 | Photo: Twitter/ @elespectador

Published 7 July 2021
Opinion

As a result of State terrorism and paramilitary actions, 178 protesters have died, 1.113 citizens were injured, and 7,400 Colombians have been forcibly displaced.

On Wednesday, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) presented a report on how President Ivan Duque has handled the National Strike against him. This multilateral institution concludes that his policies enhanced insecurity and violence in Colombia.

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Since the start of demonstrations on April 28, the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) and the Army have harshly repressed citizens. As a result of State terrorism and paramilitary actions, 178 protesters have died, 1.113 citizens were injured, and 7,400 Colombians have been forcibly displaced.

In the face of this, IACHR reiterated the importance of respecting the exceptional nature of the use of force and urged Colombian authorities to investigate all cases with due diligence to identify and punish those responsible.

"The Commission also found information on low levels of public trust in State institutions, a phenomenon that could be explained by issues such as high levels of impunity," the IACHR report highlighted.

As multiple cases of sexual, ethnic-racial, and gender-based violence were also registered amid protests, this multilateral institution also announced the installation of a special human rights mechanism to monitor the use of State force during protests.

Instead of paying attention to the substance of the IACHR report, Duque reacted badly, minimizing human rights violations, and stigmatizing citizens who continue to protest against his administration.

"No one can recommend a country to be tolerant with acts of criminality," the Colombian president tweeted.

The far-right politician also did not accept the recommendation to remove authority from the Defense Ministry over the National Police. To justify his refusal, Duque said that such institution has controlled the Police since the administration of Alberto Lleras (1958-1962).

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