United States Government, United Nations Call On Colombian Government To Respect Human Rights Amid Nationwide Unrest
Amid continuing unrest throughout Colombia, and as reports of state violence accumulate, the US State Department has weighed in, urging restraint and dialogue on the part of the Colombian government in addressing the protests. Jalina Porter, deputy spokesperson for the US Department of State issued a public statement that reads as follows:
The United States is deeply saddened by the loss of life during protests throughout Colombia in recent days, and sends its condolences to the families and friends of all victims.
All over the world, citizens in democratic countries have the unquestionable right to protest peacefully. Violence and vandalism is an abuse of that right.
At the same time, we urge the utmost restraint by public forces to prevent additional loss of life. We recognize the Government of Colombia’s commitment to investigate reports of police excesses and address any violations of human rights.
We continue to support the Colombian government’s efforts to address the current situation through political dialogue.
Colombia’s own government human rights ombudsman has reported alarm at over 87 cases of disappearances in areas where there have been clashes between protestors or rioters and government security forces. The Cali suburb of Palmira was a flashpoint, with the international airport temporarily closed due to nearby disturbances that impeded travel. Government troops were deployed to the area.
While there have been incidents of looting and rioting, there have been alarming reports of riot police attacking peaceful protesters not engaging in vandalism or violence. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson, Marta Hurtado, also called on the Colombian authorities to respect human rights, citing events in and around Cali as an area of extreme concern. “We are deeply alarmed by the events that occurred in Cali. Our office in Colombia is working to verify the exact number of victims,” she said, adding that: “We remind the state authorities of their responsibility to protect human rights, including the right to life and personal security, and to facilitate the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.”
Estamos profundamente alarmados por los acontecimientos ocurridos en la ciudad de Cali, Colombia, la pasada noche ??video con pronunciamiento de portavoz de la Alta Comisionada de la ONU Para los Derechos Humanos pic.twitter.com/xXeA7MIpeO
— ONU Derechos Humanos Colombia (@ONUHumanRights) May 4, 2021
Headline photo: Peaceful protesters in the Medellín neighborhood of San Javier (photo: Julian Padierna)