RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) ended its official visit to Colombia on Thursday, during which it reviewed numerous reports of police and civilian violence during anti-government protests that have left dozens dead and missing, as well as thousands injured.
On her last day, the chair of the IACHR, Antonia Urrejola, visited the exhibition “Stolen Lives” that brings together in the space “Fragments, Space for Art and Memory” in Bogotá the faces and stories of people killed in social demonstrations that have occurred in the country since 2019.
In that space, which until June 27 will house the memory of the victims, the commissioner listened to the stories and the cry for justice of some parents who began an intense struggle so that the death of their children, most of them young people killed allegedly by police officers, does not remain in impunity.
The IACHR delegation also met in Bogotá with the vice president and foreign minister, Marta Lucía Ramírez, and with the mayor of the capital, Claudia López. It concluded its visit to the city of Cali, the epicenter of the demonstrations and where the most serious acts of violence have taken place.
“The IACHR bids farewell to Cali, after two days of important activities; it thanks the local authorities, bodies of the Public Ministry and civil society for their openness to dialogue and provide information within the framework of the working visit,” the Commission informed.
The IACHR delegation reviewed the accusations against the police for the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of firearms during the demonstrations, heard hundreds of testimonies of victims of violence, and received reports on cases of disappearances and gender violence as attacks against the press and the medical mission.
The mayor of Bogota, who delivered today a report on the human rights violations in the protests, “asked the IACHR for support to achieve with speed the investigation, prosecution, and reparation to be made in these complaints of civilians and members of the security forces affected”.
Among her requests, the local president also reiterated the need to define a comprehensive reform of the police and a long-term social and economic pact to be built with all actors in society.
Last Tuesday, the IACHR received a report in which three organizations documented that during the protests, at least 20 people were killed by direct gunfire by the police, even though since January of this year, the force has been prohibited from using firearms during demonstrations, while Human Rights Watch has been able to verify 16 deaths from police firearms.
In contrast, the Ministry of Defense, responsible for the Police, also handed over a document that shows the violation of at least 14 fundamental rights in the midst of the demonstrations, the death of 19 civilians and two agents, as well as the number of 1,106 injured people and 1,253 injured uniformed personnel.
This report indicates that the Attorney General’s Office (Ministerio Público) has taken 178 disciplinary investigations against members of the security forces since April 28. In this sense, the Ministry of Defense committed itself to reinforce the formation and training on human rights in its institutions.