The United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, expressed on Thursday to the Colombian government the need for the upcoming elections in that country to take place in an atmosphere of peace.
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Bachelet praised the advances in transitional justice and urged the Executive to guarantee that the elections take place without violence.
Just hours before the legislative elections on March 13, which will be followed by the presidential elections (May 19), the Chilean diplomat presented the annual report on Colombia before the UN Human Rights Council.
She affirmed that "since the signing of the (Peace) Agreement, significant steps have been taken for the consolidation of peace, democracy and political participation".
Among them, she mentioned the demobilization of the extinct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP) and its constitution as a new political party, as well as the creation of the 16 peace seats in Congress for the victims of the armed conflict.
Bachelet called on the government of President Iván Duque to "guarantee the right to participate in the upcoming elections in an environment free of threats and violence".
At the same time, she described as "very important" the progress made in transitional justice by the Truth Commission, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and the Unit for the Search for Missing Persons.
In this sense, she affirmed that: "their contributions have been essential for the rights of victims to truth, justice, and reparation".
Bachelet also urged the authorities to support "this independent work and to protect the victims and witnesses who participate in the transitional justice process and the people who make up these institutions".
However, it was reported that 17 candidates from the Special Transitory Peace Circumscription number 12, which includes the departments of Cesar, Magdalena, and La Guajira (north) abandoned their aspirations for a seat, as they considered the security conditions insufficient.
The candidates claim that there was not the promised state funding for campaigning, nor were the victims of the armed conflict prepared for voting.
For these reasons, they consider that the process is implemented in such a way that the powerful and their political machines win. This situation caused a group of 25 candidates for these peace seats to go on strike on March 4.