Letter from HRVP Josep Borrell Fontelles to your kind attention – on the violation of human rights situation in Colombia17. Juni 2021
Dear Honourable Members of the European Parliament,
Thank you very much for your letter of 5 May also addressed to my Special Envoy for the Peace process in Colombia Eamon Gilmore, in which you express your concerns regarding human rights abuses during the social protests in Colombia.
Colombia is going through a profound crisis, as a third wave of social protests after those of late 2019 and September 2020 is shaking the country. The socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has further aggravated existing inequality and disenfranchisement among the population. What is most worrying is the levels of violence that we have been witnessing since the start of the protests in late April. The loss of lives and the many hundreds of injured between both protesters and the security forces is terrible. In my statement of 6 May, I expressed my deep concern with the situation. I underlined the need to respect and protect the right for peaceful protest as an essential right in any democracy, and enshrined as such in Colombia’s Constitution. I rejected all kinds of violence, including abuses and violations of human rights that took place during the protests, with a disproportionate use of force by the police and the military, as well as acts of violence and vandalism from elements mingling with the overwhelmingly peaceful protesters. I called on the Colombian institutions to investigate and prosecute thoroughly, promptly and in a transparent manner, all the different human rights abuses and violations that occurred during the protests. I also manifested my confidence in the Colombian institutions to investigate those incidents.
I conveyed these messages personally to President Duque during our phone call on 21 May. I reiterated that the only path to overcome this crisis is through an inclusive dialogue with all stakeholders, including trade unions, civil society organisations, indigenous and afro-Colombian communities, women’s groups and the many frustrated young people who demand a meaningful future, including education and employment. I welcomed the Government’s initiatives to engage and negotiate with the protesters but also expressed concerns on the prolonged roadblocks that have prevented the provision of basic supplies to the population and recalled the need for restraint and respect for human rights by the authorities, when dealing with these blockades. What Colombia and its population and economy need are open and constructive discussions, resulting in the consensual identification and implementation of concrete steps and solutions to address the root causes of this crisis.
Ref. Ares(2021)3952004 – 17/06/2021
The EU is supporting the dialogue process facilitated by the UN and the Church, where confidence is building to de-escalate tensions, on the ground and from Brussels, in particular through the contacts
of Special Envoy and Special Representative for Human Rights Mr Eamon Gilmore. The EU Delegation, in close coordination with EU Member States’ Embassies and international partners, is engaged in intense diplomatic activity with all stakeholders (including government, Congress and Senate, civil society, young people).
This is a critical time for Colombia. We are committed to endorse the Government, the civil society and all stakeholders in overcoming the crisis – and we count on your continued support.
Josep Borrell Fontelles
Electronically signed on 16/06/2021 17:53 (UTC+02) in accordance with article 11 of Commission Decision C(2020) 4482