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Colombia makes scant progress on protecting right to protest – report


Julissa Mantilla, president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH), speaks during the presentation of the first report on the follow-up of recommendations, in Bogota, Colombia January 27, 2023. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez

Colombia has made substantial progress on only three of 28 actions recommended by a regional human rights body to protect the right to protest after deaths during demonstrations in 2020 and 2021, the organization said on Friday.

The country was rocked by waves of protests during the administration of former President Ivan Duque, leading to dozens of civilian deaths, according to official figures, while advocacy groups say the number was significantly higher.

Victims’ families, their lawyers and human rights groups say many of the deaths were driven by heavy-handed policing.

After the protests, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) made 41 recommendations to protect Colombians’ right to demonstrate and tackle the underlying causes of their discontent.

In its first follow-up report on Friday, the IACHR examined progress on the 28 recommendations concerning the right to protest, finding that substantial compliance had been achieved on three, partial compliance on 14 and no compliance on 11.

The president’s office and IACHR Commissioner Julissa Mantilla said the two sides were committed to working together with civil society to advance the effort.

“We believe that the recommendations given by international human rights bodies have the potential to produce structural changes that allow us to guarantee non-repetition (of these events),” Foreign Vice Minister Laura Gil said in the statement.