Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary-General Luis Almagro Friday condemned “the cases of torture and murders committed by the forces of order” in Colombia where unrest reigns supreme since April 28.
Multiple protests have taken place in Colombia since President Iván Duque submitted to Congress a tax reform bill which was going to be easy on the wealthiest and harsh on the middle class in contrast to the world's current trend of shifting the burden towards those who can afford it, as it has already been the case in Argentina and Bolivia and which is encouraged by world leaders such as US President Joseph Biden or United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
These demonstrations have been crushed by police forces with unprecedented brutality which the world was able to witness through homemade videos that went viral over social media. Colombia has so far recorded 37 violent deaths this year according to the NGO Tremors.
“The OAS General Secretariat recognizes peaceful protest as a fundamental basic right that must be protected by democratic institutions,” Almagro said.
He added that “ the right to protest is a right of individuals and society and must be highly valued as a form of political participation”, he added.
Almagro underlined as well that those who do not protest also have rights and these cannot be violated when fundamental rights of the population such as health, work, education and free movement are affected. In this sense, the cessation of the blockades is urged when these fundamental rights of the people are violated and a broader social peace is supported within the framework of the demands that they want to make, said Almagro about road blockades that have affected the normal supply of food and medicines to various cities nationwide.
But he also regretted state-endorsed violence: “We especially condemn the cases of torture and murder committed by the forces of order, he said.
We value the report sent by the Ombudsman's Office to the Attorney General's Office regarding the prosecution of criminal responsibility by those members of the public force who have exceeded themselves and who have committed a crime violating fundamental rights of citizenship, Almagro went on, as he called for the prosecution of those who have committed actions of a terrorist nature against the institutions and authorities of the State.
The OAS General Secretariat demands that external and internal actors who induce violence and destabilization of the country stop these actions and calls on organized violent groups to stop their criminal actions, Almagro pointed out.
The Organization of American States supports the conversation process led by the national government and calls for all social and political forces to work together towards this goal.
The United Nations have also called for a stop to criminal actions in Colombia and opposed the loss of life, incidents of violence and the disproportionate use of the force during protests.” The UN stood in favour of “the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to protest to be guaranteed, and [insisted] that any action by the public force must fully observe the protection and respect for human rights.”
“The Peace Agreement signed in 2016 offers elements to regulate these guarantees and strengthen citizen participation,” the UN said. It also condemned any form of violence, such as vandalism against infrastructure, serious cases of sexual violence and actions that violate human rights, which is why it urged the national government to accelerate the process of ”investigation, prosecution and punishment” of those responsible.