IACHR Welcomes Dialogue with the Colombian State and Stresses the Need for a Prompt Working Visit

May 25, 2021

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) met with Colombia's Vice President and Foreign Minister Marta Lucía Ramírez on May 24, 2021, to address the situation of human rights in the country, the excessive use of force by officers of the State during recent protests, and the violence that took place during those protests. The Commission stressed the need for a prompt working visit to the country, considering the current situation of human rights there since protests started on April 28.

Foreign Minister Marta Lucía Ramírez told the IACHR about the current state of affairs in Colombia, the State's respect for the exercise of the right to protest (as acknowledged in the country's Political Constitution), the government's rejection of all forms of human rights violations and isolated violence, and the effects of road blockades, as well as about the need for a single record of human rights violations and for coordination among various State institutions and about the government's support for investigations into recent events. Ramírez further highlighted the major role played by the IACHR in this context.

The Inter-American Commission stressed the Colombian State's historic opening to cooperate and hold talks about human rights in line with its obligations to the Inter-American System. The IACHR further expressed concern about the consequences of the disproportionate use of force during recent protests, particularly in terms of a high number of people killed and injured (including eye wounds) and allegations of forced disappearances in the protest context. The Commission is also concerned about allegations of sexual and gender-based violence in the same context. The Commission further noted its concern about the lack of reliable, transparent records of complaints concerning allegations of human rights violations, about the importance of civil society in any efforts to draw up such records, and about the effects of violence and vandalism. The IACHR stressed the importance of conducting a working visit to Colombia as soon as possible, and detailed the potential scope of the visit.

During the meeting, Colombia's foreign minister said she would provide the specific information requested by the IACHR concerning these protests. Ramírez invited the Commission to conduct a working visit to Colombia following the ex officio public hearing on the situation of human rights in the country that is set to be held on June 29, during the IACHR's 180th Period of Sessions.

The Commission acknowledges and values this meeting and the chance for dialogue with Colombia. It will continue to monitor the situation in the country, while coordinating with the State the dates and scope of a potential visit.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 135/21