Tag: Public Health

April 15, 2020

Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, Justice Minister Margarita Cabello announces that about 4,000 prisoners will be released from the nation’s prisons in order to practice social distancing under house arrest.

Tags: Prisons, Public Health

April 15, 2020

Podcast: COVID-19, Communities, and Human Rights in Colombia

As of early April 2020, Colombia has documented a relatively low number of coronavirus cases, and in cities at least, the country has taken on strict social distancing measures.

This has not meant that Colombia’s embattled social leaders and human rights defenders are any safer. WOLA’s latest urgent action memo, released on April 10, finds that “killings and attacks on social leaders and armed confrontations continue and have become more targeted. We are particularly concerned about how the pandemic will affect already marginalized Afro-Colombian and indigenous minorities in rural and urban settings.”

In this edition of the WOLA Podcast, that memo’s author, Director for the Andes Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli, explains the danger to social leaders, the shifting security situation, the ceasefire declared by the ELN guerrillas, the persistence of U.S.-backed coca eradication operations, and how communities are organizing to respond to all of this.

Listen above, or download the .mp3 file here.

Tags: Afro-Descendant Communities, Attacks on social leaders, Human Rights Defenders, Indigenous Communities, Podcast, Public Health

April 11, 2020

COVID-19 and Human Rights in Colombia

By Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli, cross-posted from wola.org.

Colombia, along with the rest of the world, is dealing with the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus. Similar to governments across the globe, it is adapting the best it can to this unprecedented public health threat. As of April 9, 69 Colombians have died, and another 2,223 are infected with the virus that has spread across 23 departments. In this update, we include information received from our partners with their view on how the pandemic is affecting their communities, along with concerning reports of on-going killings, attacks, and threats against social leaders; armed conflict; insecurity; and other abuses. Sadly, despite the national quarantine in Colombia, killings and attacks on social leaders and armed confrontations continue and have become more targeted.

We are particularly concerned about how the pandemic will affect already marginalized Afro-Colombian and indigenous minorities in rural and urban settings. Additional measures must be put in place to protect the health of these already marginalized communities. For this to be effective, consultation, coordination, and implementation are required with ethnic leaders in both rural and urban settings. On March 30, the Ethnic Commission sent President Duque a letter with medium and long-term requests to best help ethnic communities. In sum, they ask the government to coordinate with them; guarantee food supplies, seeds, and inputs for planting their crops; and to strengthen their organizations so they can sustain their national and regional team that attends daily to the situation of the peoples in the territories. At present, the National Organization for Indigenous Peoples (ONIC) has developed a national system of territorial monitoring of the COVID-19 virus in indigenous territories. They have organized territorial controls with indigenous guards to limit contagion in indigenous areas. AFRODES has circulated guidelines for displaced Afro-Colombians in urban settings. 

Tags: Afro-Descendant Communities, Attacks on social leaders, Human Rights, Human Rights Defenders, Indigenous Communities, Public Health, WOLA Statements

April 10, 2020

March 30, 2020

  • The government’s Reincorporation and Normalization Agency (ARN) announces that, during the period of COVID-19 social distancing, it will continue food and medical assistance for the 2,893 FARC ex-combatants who remain in 24 former demobilization sites (ETCRs). Monthly transfers of 90 percent of minimum wage are to continue through August. Nearly all outside visits to the ETCRs have been suspended by quarantine measures, and most ARN services, like medical consultations and technical training, are being provided virtually or by telephone.

Tags: Demobilization Disarmament and Reintegration, Public Health

March 30, 2020

March 30, 2020

Photo source: Tweet from Defensoría del Pueblo.

Caption: “La @DefensoriaCol acompaña en el aeropuerto El Dorado de Bogotá la llegada de 64 personas deportadas de Estados Unidos. Se busca, en compañía de sus familias, garantizarles sus derechos en las actuales circunstancias de cuarentena y un pronto reencuentro con sus seres queridos.”

Tags: Migration, Public Health, U.S. Policy

March 30, 2020

March 29, 2020

  • The ELN announces a unilateral ceasefire during the month of April in response to the COVID-19 emergency. The guerrillas’ statement asks the government to send negotiators to Havana to discuss making the ceasefire bilateral.
  • The Defendamos la Paz movement issues a statement on March 30 hailing the ELN’s decision.
  • The government’s high commissioner for peace, Miguel Ceballos, turns down the ELN’s demand that local military units pull back to their barracks during the ceasefire. He calls the ELN’s announcement “a good gesture, but late and insufficient,” calling on the group to make the unilateral ceasefire permanent.
  • The government names former ELN leaders Francisco Galán and Felipe Torres “peace promoters”—advisors and possible interlocutors with the guerrilla group. This releases Galán from preventive prison for his alleged role in a 2000 kidnapping, and suspends an arrest order against Torres.

Tags: ELN, ELN Peace Talks, Public Health

March 29, 2020

March 25, 2020

Colombia’s government declares a national lockdown in an effort to arrest the spread of COVID-19. It creates an emergency fund equal to 2.8% of gross domestic product.

Tags: Public Health

March 25, 2020

March 21, 2020

  • Inmates in several Colombian prisons stage protests out of concern for the spread of the COVID-19 virus amid very crowded conditions. In Bogotá’s La Modelo prison, where thousands participate in a protest, authorities claim that guards killed 23 prisoners attempting to escape.

Tags: Bogotá, Prisons, Public Health

March 21, 2020