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News > Colombia

UN Urges Inquiry Into Police Brutality In Colombian Protests

  • The sign reads,

    The sign reads, "The government steals, the press lies, the police kills," Pereira, Colombia, May 2021. | Photo: EFE

Published 14 May 2021

Human rights defenders rejected attempts to stigmatize protesters and condemned the slander campaigns against Indigenous peoples.

Human rights experts of the United Nations (UN) on Friday condemned the police brutality that has taken place in Colombia.


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"We reject the excessive and illegal use of force by police and members of the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) against peaceful protesters, human rights defenders, and journalists," states a joint statement signed by the United Nations rapporteurs on freedom of association (Clement Voule), freedom of opinion (Irene Khan), members of the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances, and the special rapporteur for freedom of expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), among others.

They urged President Ivan Duque to investigate 26 deaths, 1,876 cases of police brutality, 168 disappearances, 963 arbitrary detentions, and 12 cases of sexual violence that have occurred during the protests.

According to UN experts, police brutality was promoted by the militarization and high deployment of ESMAD agents in the streets of the country.

"We reject any attempt to stigmatize protesters and we condemn the slander campaigns against Colombian Indigenous peoples, who were accused of using arms during the peaceful protests."

Three days ago, Duque promised to investigate denunciations against the ESMAD, although he did not admit there was police brutality in his country. He insists on calling "vandals" the people who have been protesting against his mandate for 15 days in a row to justify violence.

"We have nothing to lose, beyond our lives. We will be in the streets until Duque resigns," citizen Alejandro Rodriguez assured, adding that people are protesting for better economic conditions and for their right to live in peace.

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