On February 26, the Colombian Government publicly condemned the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ (OHCHR) 2019 Report. The condemnation characterized the report as imprecise and untruthful—and President Iván Duque went as far as saying that one of the report’s recommendations was an “infringement of sovereignty.” Many civil society actors—over 1,000 organizations and activists—came together in solidarity with the UN Human Rights office to support its significant work. They quickly organized to publish a public declaration. Here is an English translation:
WE SUPPORT THE OFFICE OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER OF THE UNITED NATIONS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN COLOMBIA’S WORK AND ITS REPRESENTATIVE ALBERTO BRUNORI
Bogotá, March 2, 2020
Since the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ (OHCHR) arrival in Colombia in 1997, the social and human rights movements have supported its work and its reports that annually summarize major events related to socio-political violence in the context of armed conflict, to humanitarian issues, and to the situation of human rights and international humanitarian law in general. Its recommendations have been a valuable and permanent tool for national and international advocacy, as well as a useful document for a better understanding of our reality.
This week, OHCHR’s representative in Colombia, Mr. Alberto Brunori, published the 2019 Report, which we support and consider appropriate, serious, rigorous, and in accordance with Colombia’s human rights reality. This report coincides with the reality that, on a daily basis, is seen through social media and complaints brought by social organizations throughout different territories in the country. The quantitative and qualitative description it contains gives an account of the country’s recent exponential deterioration in human rights.
We consider Iván Duque and the National Government’s reaction to both the report and to the work conducted by the OHCHR under Representative Brunori undue and unjustified. This disproportionate reaction demonstrates the Government’s lack of commitment to human rights at the international level with bodies that – like the Office – constructively contribute to the validity of the human rights situation in our country.
Social and human rights platforms and organizations support the judicious and documented work of Mr. Alberto Brunori and his national and regional work teams, and welcome his stay in the country until 2022. We urge the National Government to address the recommendations contained in the Report, as this will help address the growing violence in the country, and will take truly effective measures to ensure the human rights of the population. This will also ensure the success of the Peace Agreement, considered by the international community to be unprecedented and of global interest.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights office in Colombia will continue to count on our support to continue contributing significantly to the prevalence of coexistence and the pursuit of peace in Colombia through its observation mandate, technical assistance, and verification of the Peace Agreement’s implementation.
(Letter in Spanish with list of signers)
March 4, 2020