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Colombia: Amnesty International denounces militarized response and police crackdown on demonstrations




Colombian authorities must end repression of demonstrations, end militarization of cities, and ensure that respect for and guarantee of human rights is at the heart of any public policy proposal, including tax reform, Amnesty International said today. audiovisual rehearsal, verified by the Digital Verification Bodies, of excessive and unnecessary use of force by the security forces charged with controlling the protests.

Colombian authorities must immediately, independently and impartially investigate all allegations of excessive and unnecessary use of force against demonstrators, which has resulted in dozens of people being killed and injured, arbitrary detentions, acts of torture and sexual violence. , and reports of missing people. They must also respect freedom of expression and the press and ensure that journalists can cover the news in safety, said Erika Guevara-Rosas, USA director at Amnesty International.

Colombian authorities must immediately, independently and impartially investigate all allegations of excessive and unnecessary use of force against demonstrators, which has resulted in dozens of people being killed and injured, arbitrary detentions, acts of torture and sexual violence. , and reports of missing people.

Erika Guevara-Rosas, USA Director at Amnesty International

Since April 28, there have been largely peaceful demonstrations in various parts of the country in response to the tax reform bill introduced by President Yves Duque, which have often been violently suppressed. On May 1, announced the president a military presence in urban centers where there is a high risk to the integrity of citizens and stated: I want to issue a clear warning to those who, through violence, vandalism and terrorism, seek to intimidate society and think that with this mechanism they will to break institutions.

People dissatisfied with economic measures that they perceive as unfair and may endanger their human rights should not be labeled vandalism and terrorism, as President Yves Duque has done, nor used as an excuse for violent repression. , said Erika Guevara-Rosas.

As of May 3, civil society organizations reported 26 people killed as a result of repression by the National Police and 761 arbitrary detentions. They also reported 142 victims of ill-treatment, nine victims of sexual violence and 56 reports of people disappearing in the context of demonstrations. In addition, there were reports of attacks on journalists, including acts of physical violence, arbitrary arrests, and the deletion of journalistic material.

Through the analysis and verification of audiovisual images, Amnesty International has confirmed that Colombian police have used deadly weapons in several incidents, as well as the indiscriminate use of less deadly weapons such as tear gas, water cannons and other materials against demonstrators in some parts. of the country. For example, the use of the Galil Tavorn rifle was identified in Cali during the suppression of demonstrations on 30 April, just as police directed semi-automatic weapons at unarmed demonstrators on 2 May in Popayn. In another incident, on May 1 in Bogot, an armored vehicle was seen firing live ammunition. All such armaments are prohibited for dispersing protests according to international standards.

Amnesty International considers that human rights violations and crimes under international law committed by security forces are not isolated or sporadic events, but fit into a consistent pattern in modus operandi and types of violations committed across the country.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has ruled that states that are parties to the American Convention on Human Rights, such as Colombia, should limit as much as possible the use of the armed forces to control domestic unrest, as they are trained to fight enemies rather than protect and control civilians, a task that is typical of police forces. The Court also ruled that the extraordinary participation of the armed forces in these tasks should be extraordinary, subordinate and complementary, regulated, through legal mechanisms and protocols for the use of force, under the principles of exceptionalism, proportionality and absolute necessity, and in accordance with relevant training in this matter and audited by competent, independent and technically competent civil bodies.

Even in the face of allegations of violence perpetrated by demonstrators in some protests, the authorities have a duty to take all necessary measures to deal with such violence by ensuring that those who protest peacefully continue to do so.

People dissatisfied with economic measures that they perceive to be unjust and may endanger their human rights should not be labeled vandalism and terrorism, as President Iván Duque has done, nor used as an excuse for violent repression.

Erika Guevara-Rosas, USA Director at Amnesty International

In light of the withdrawal of the tax reform bill and the announcement of a new one, the government must ensure that any public tax policy it adopts is designed and implemented in line with Colombia’s international human rights obligations. This means making sure that the measures are temporary, reasonable and proportionate, that the less restrictive alternative measures are exhausted and that the genuine participation of the individuals and groups involved is guaranteed. The government should urgently undertake an assessment of the human rights impact of these measures to ensure that they are non-discriminatory and that they respect, in particular, the rights of historically marginalized groups, and take into account the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and differential impact.

In light of the announcement of more demonstrations, Amnesty International calls on the authorities to guarantee the Colombian people the right to peaceful protest and reminds President Yvonne Duque that deploying an armed force to control demonstrations only increases the risk of further violations of human rights. human and crimes under the law.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Duncan Tucker:[email protected]

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