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Colombia News Brief for June 9, 2021

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SPOTLIGHT

Colombia: Egregious Police Abuses Against Protesters
Human Rights Watch, June 9, 2021
“On April 28, thousands of people took to the streets in dozens of cities across Colombia to protest proposed tax changes. The government withdrew the proposal days later, but demonstrations about a range of issues – including economic inequality, police violence, unemployment, and poor public services – have continued. Police officers have responded by repeatedly and arbitrarily dispersing peaceful demonstrations and using excessive, often brutal, force, including live ammunition. Human Rights Watch has documented multiple killings by police, as well as beatings, sexual abuse, and arbitrary detention of demonstrators and bystanders. ‘These brutal abuses are not isolated incidents by rogue officers, but rather the result of systemic shortcomings of the Colombian police,’ said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. ‘Comprehensive reform that clearly separates the police from the military and ensures adequate oversight and accountability is needed to ensure that these violations don’t occur again.’”

Statement by U.S.-Based Organizations Calling for a Cut-Off of Security Aid to Colombia and an End to Repression of Protests in Colombia 
“Because the Colombian government appears dead set on continuing and escalating the repression against mostly non-violent and peaceful demonstrators, we call on the Government of the United States of America to immediately stop all police and military assistance and arms and crowd control equipment sales to Colombia. We urge the Colombian government to end the security force violence, ensure accountability for the abuses, search for the missing, and establish a meaningful dialogue to address the underlying economic and racial inequality and denials of basic human rights that gave rise to the protests.”

GOVERNMENT-FARC PEACE PROCESS

Land Restitution: A Dangerous Job in Colombia 
Sara Garcia, InSight Crime, June 8, 2021
“In June 2011, then-President Juan Manuel Santos signed the Victims and Land Restitution Law, which laid the groundwork for lands to be returned to rural owners who had been stripped of them by rightwing paramilitaries and leftist rebels. Five years later, the peace accords between the Colombian government and the FARC provided further opportunity to step up the restitution process in regions controlled by the guerrillas. But intimidation and violence have made claimants wary of proceeding. Forty-eight claimants have been killed between 2011 to 2020, as have police officers escorting land restitution teams. The mere appearance of government personnel in territories where armed actors carry out illicit activities automatically puts lives at risk.”

Juan Manuel Santos hablará sobre falsos positivos ante la Comisión de la Verdad
El Espectador, June 7, 2021
“La Comisión quiere indagar a Santos quien se desempeñó como ministro de Defensa durante el lapso en el que más registro se tuvo de muertes extrajudiciales, en las que se presentaban a civiles muertos como guerrilleros dados de baja en combate. A este fenómeno también se le conoce como los falsos positivos. Recientes investigaciones de la Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz (JEP), dieron cuenta de que durante 2002 y 2008, cuando estaba Álvaro Uribe como presidente y Santos como ministro, se presentaron 6.402 casos de falsos positivos”.

Colombian Social Leader Who Co-Signed FARC Peace Agreement Assassinated
Democracy Now!, June 7, 2021
“In Colombia, another social leader has been murdered. José Alonso was from the region of Valle del Cauca and a signatory of the 2016 peace accord between the Colombian state and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. The 56-year-old was a community organizer for at least three decades and served as president of the Moralia’s Communal Council until his assassination. His killing came as massive anti-government protests against right-wing President Iván Duque continued across Colombia.”

Taller De Vida Reintegrates Colombia’s Former Child Soldiers Into Society
Jackie Abramian, Forbes, June 4, 2021
“‘Being involved in armed conflict leaves wounds in the soul–it’s difficult to recover. It hurts seeing the recent attacks on FARC dissident camps–girls getting killed. They are not ‘war machines,’ as the Minister of Defense said. They forced them to be there.’ Sowing seeds of ‘fear, anxiety, and silence,’ political violence denies its victims the capacity for action and decision, Duque explains. To heal, it’s essential to build supportive relationships to provide continuity to those who faced murder or the disappearance of a loved one. While deniers of the peace process agreements attack Taller de Vida’s efforts recently, the NGO continues its services working with Indigenous and Afro-descendant community councils and trains local teachers in ‘psychosocial accompaniment’ to identify families in need.”

HUMAN RIGHTS

Informe de Temblores ONG, Indepaz y Paiis a la CIDH sobre la violación sistemática de la Convención Americana y los alcances jurisprudenciales de la Corte IDH con respecto al uso de la fuerza pública contra la sociedad civil en Colombia, en el marco de las protestas acontecidas entre el 28 de abril y el 31 de mayo de 2021
8 de junio de 2021
“Desde el 28 de abril de 2021 hasta la fecha de envío de este informe se han presentado expresiones masivas de protesta en todo el territorio nacional colombiano. En este informe se reportan a la CIDH hechos de violencia por parte de miembros de la fuerza pública contrarios a la convención Americana de Derechos Humanos y se analizan las acciones y omisiones estatales que, en su conjunto y sistematicidad, generan un entorno propicio para la vulneración del derecho a la protesta y, de forma conexa, la violación de un sinnumero de derechos”.

Defensoría informó a la CIDH de 584 casos de violación a los DD.HH. durante el paro 
El Espectador, June 7, 2021
“Una vez concluido el encuentro con el Gobierno, los delegados de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) se desplazaron hasta la Defensoría del Pueblo para adelantar una audiencia privada con Carlos Camargo y otros funcionarios del Ministerio Público, que entregaron un informe sobre la situación en materia de derechos humanos en el marco del paro nacional”.

Nueva marcha contra el paro en Medellín    
David Calle, El Tiempo, 7 de junio de 2021
“La manifestación recorrió la comuna 11, partió desde la estación Estadio del metro pasó por el viaducto del sistema y tomó la calle Colombia hacia las afueras de la Cuarta Brigada del Ejército en donde entregaron flores y lanzaron consignas en agradecimiento a las fuerzas militares, luego pasó por el Obelisco y culminó en el mismo punto de partida. Los asistentes manifestaron su descontento con el paro y piden que no haya más violencia en las constantes marchas en la ciudad”.

Las nueve prácticas “sistemáticas” de la Policía contra manifestantes en el Paro Nacional entregadas a la CIDH
Natalia Herrera, El Espectador, June 7, 2021
“Este diario conoció el documento que, desde la plataforma GRITA de Temblores ONG, el observatorio de derechos humanos de Indepaz y el Programa de Acción por la Igualdad y la Inclusión Social (PAIIS ) entregarán a la delegación de la CIDH. Durante el Paro Nacional, estas dos organizaciones de la sociedad civil han hecho una labor de recepción, triangulación, verificación, sistematización y registro de denuncias de violencia policial. Desde el 28 de abril hasta el 31 de mayo registraron y verificaron que, al menos, ha habido 3.789 casos de violencia policial durante ese periodo”.

El ABC de las visitas de la CIDH antes de su llegada a Colombia
Camilo Gómez Forero, El Espectador, 6 de junio de 2021
“La visita de la CIDH no puede hacer magia y no es la fórmula para resolver la crisis colombiana de inmediato. No obstante, dicho registro de las violaciones a derechos humanos y las recomendaciones que pueda hacer una misión internacional ayudarían a rebajar las tensiones que se viven y atenuar la crisis. Este trabajo refuerza los mecanismos para fortalecer el diálogo con el fin de detener la violencia probada. Y la CIDH, que tiene una credibilidad inmensa en la región, era la indicada para realizar esta tarea, debido a su larga trayectoria cumpliendo este tipo de labores”.

La CIDH puede ayudar a superar la crisis
El Espectador, June 6, 2021
“Por eso, que la CIDH, un órgano respetado e independiente, pueda hacer su labor en el país es una gran noticia. La visita ya llevó a varios anuncios de reforma y avances en investigaciones por parte de las autoridades colombianas. Eso es bueno. Por supuesto que el Gobierno puede y debe contarles su versión de lo ocurrido a los comisionados. Allí yace la importancia de la visita: contrario a lo que algunos extremistas ideológicos dicen, no se trata de un organismo sesgado, sino que viene a escuchar e intentar construir una visión integral de lo que ha pasado”.

Colombia to ‘modernise’ police after protest violence criticism 
Al Jazeera, June 6, 2021
“During a ceremony to celebrate police promotions on Sunday, Duque said his government would ask Congress to approve the creation of a police human rights directorate, which will seek international help on policy, and a new education directorate for officer training. Duque said he ordered the creation of ‘a decree that will modernise the structure of the national police, especially to strengthen the policy … on human rights.’”

Paro Nacional: Se ordena suspender uso de “Venom” durante las protestas en Popayán
El Espectador, 3 de junio de 2021
“Sin embargo, la prohibición de este dispositivo es temporal y podrá ser usado nuevamente cuando la Policía Metropolitana de Popayán y el Esmad cumplan con una serie de recomendaciones estipuladas en el documento. La primera de las sugerencias hechas por la jueza Cuetia es la elaboración de un protocolo para el correcto uso del dispositivo, el cual no podrá ser disparado desde el suelo sino desde un trípode para que así no sea disparado directamente a la humanidad de los manifestantes.”

The shadow of paramilitarism hovers over the protests in Colombia
Market Research Telecast, June 2, 2021 
“The use of weapons in Colombia by civilians has historical roots, it is stimulated by little state control, but also by impunity. ‘There is a long tradition of civilians who violently implement their form of justice and control, establishing the order they need for their businesses, for their finances, for their personal good. In our recent history it has been present since the legalization of armed civilian groups such as the so-called Convivir (surveillance and private security cooperatives) and later with the AUC (paramilitary group),’ says Martha Nubia Bello, professor at the University Nacional, who has worked on historical memory projects on the Bojayá massacre (confrontation between the FARC and paramilitaries in 2002, which left 72 dead) and the El Tigre massacre (paramilitary incursion in 1999, with a balance of 28 deaths, 14 missing).”

Protesters back on the streets of Colombia amid stalled talks
Al Jazeera, June 2, 2021
“Francisco Maltes, president of the Central Union of Workers (CUT), who sits on the committee, accused the government of delaying the signing of the pre-agreement, which includes guarantees the committee says are needed to protect protesters’ rights. ‘All these actions are to pressure the government into starting negotiations,’ Maltes told the Reuters news agency. ‘The government lacks the political will to seek an agreement. We are waiting for the government to sign the pre-agreement for guarantees.’”

Retos y dilemas del uso del Esmad en la protesta en Colombia 
Andrés Felipe Ortega, Farid Camilo Rondón y Lina Paola Faciolince, El Espectador, June 2, 2021
“Verdad que en muchos casos se cumplieron los protocolos y se manejaron las protestas bajo los marcos legales. Pero sus actuaciones son distintas en regiones o en momentos, y ha sido obvia su crudeza en hechos focalizados en el Valle del Cauca, Cauca y Bogotá. Al revisar el Manual para el Servicio de Policía en la Atención, Manejo y Control de Multitudes, la resolución 02903 de 2017 y el decreto 03 de 2021, se concluye que durante el paro nacional el Esmad incumplió con las normas establecidas para su funcionamiento”.

Colombia torturing illegally arrested citizens in clandestine jails: report
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, June 2, 2021
“Colombia’s third largest city has suffered the most violent repression of protests against the increasingly tyrannical President Ivan Duque that kicked off on April 28. More than half of the protesters who have been assassinated by police or armed government supporters during the protests were murdered in Cali, according to think tank Indepaz. Canal 2 previously discovered that a local branch of supermarket chain Exito was being used as an operation center by police and armed civilians. An inspection team that included human rights officials filmed blood spatters in different parts of the supermarket.”

Colombia’s police team up with armed civilians to kill anti-government protesters
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, May 31, 2021
“The Cali massacre followed hours after Inspector General of the National Police, General Jorge Ramirez, announced an investigation into the collusion of police with armed civilians in Colombia’s third largest city since protests began on April 28. Ramirez announced no arrests or investigation into evident collusion between police and paramilitary groups and gangs in other parts of the country. In Medellin, for example, journalists were beaten up by gang members on Saturday after taking pictures of their collusion with local police.”

“Urge dejar de negar la desaparición de personas en las protestas”: Unidad de Búsqueda
El Espectador, 28 de mayo de 2021
“Luz Marina Monzón, directora de la Unidad de Búsqueda, pide que se eviten eufemismos como ‘persona no localizada’, pues a través de esa estrategia de comunicación se trataría de atenuar lo que realmente sucede en Colombia, en cuanto a desaparición. ‘Al negar que hay desaparición, no se activan los mecanismos de búsqueda existentes a nivel nacional e internacional que garanticen la protección de las personas contra la desaparición’, explicó Monzón.”

Videos Show Violent and Deadly Colombian Police Tactics
Stella Cooper, Nilo Tabrizy, Christiaan Triebert, Brent McDonald, Ben Laffin, Sergio Olmos, and Johnny Ismay, The New York Times, May 27, 2021
“The Times met and interviewed witnesses and victims in Cali, combed through hundreds of videos circulating on social media and submitted to our tip line. The visual evidence reveals a pattern of disproportionate use of force by Colombia’s national police, including its controversial riot-response unit.”

Human Rights Watch warns Colombian police uses high-tech projectile launcher against demonstrators
MercoPress, May 10, 2021
“Vivanco explained that the tanks are equipped with a type of ‘horizontal, not upward, horizontal, multi-projectile launchers that can apparently launch tear gas or stun bombs in a way that can be indiscriminate.’ He added that ‘this seems like a highly dangerous, high-risk procedure, and I believe that this type of practice is what causes the complaints about extreme police brutality.’ Vivanco had published a video showing police officers firing multiple projectiles from a tank at protesters in Colombia. ‘With eyewitnesses and digital video verification we have corroborated the use of tanks with multiple projectile launchers aimed at protesters,’ he wrote on his Twitter account, warning that it is a ‘dangerous and indiscriminate weapon.’”

DRUG POLICY

En operativo internacional, Policía Nacional incautó más de 15 toneladas de droga
Infobae, 8 de junio de 2021
“La Policía Nacional de Colombia, finalmente resaltó la serie de operativos como un gran golpe a las redes criminales, puesto que de acuerdo con el Centro Internacional de Estudios Estratégicos contra el Narcotráfico (CIENA) de la Dirección de Antinarcóticos, toda la droga incautada está valuada aproximadamente en 100 millones de dólares en Centroamérica y Suramérica. ‘Por eso seguimos generando ese intercambio de información con las diferentes agencias internacionales y con la Fiscalía, para poder procurar unos mejores resultados y sobre todo identificar a los narcotraficantes que se vienen asociando a nivel internacional.’, concluyó el director de Antinarcóticos de la Policía Nacional, el mayor General Herman Alejandro Bustamante”.

VENEZUELAN CRISIS 

Authorities visit the Colombian-Venezuelan border after fighting in Apure 
Market Research Telecast, June 8, 2021
According to local media, the delegation was made up of representatives of the embassies in Colombia from Germany, Brazil, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom; the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Also, the European Union; the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Office in Colombia of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, together with the Colombian Defense Minister, Diego Molano.”

Colombia extends border closure with Venezuela 
Al Jazeera, June 1, 2021 
“Colombia will keep its border with Venezuela shut until September 1, scrapping earlier plans to reopen on June 1, the nation’s Foreign Ministry has said in a decree. According to the document dated May 31, humanitarian situations, the transport of cargo and merchandise, as well as the departure of foreign nationals will be exempt from the closure.”