UN: Colombian police killed at least 28 during wave of protests

Bogota, Dec 15 (EFE).- The Colombian government’s response to nationwide protests between April 28 and July 31 of this year was characterized by “serious violations” of human rights and at least 28 of the 46 confirmed deaths resulted from the actions of the police, the United Nations said in a report released Wednesday.

The study is drawn from on more than 600 interviews with victims and witnesses and nearly 900 conversations with officials at all levels and representatives of NGOs, the groups that organized the protests and the business community.

“We have well-founded reasons to maintain that … there were human rights violations such as the arbitrary taking of life on the part of the public force,” Juliette de Rivero, head of the UN Human Rights Office in Colombia, said as she presented the report.

Besides the killings, members of the Colombian security forces detained people without cause and committed sexual assaults against protesters, according to the UN.

Many of the victims were indigenous people or Afro-Colombians.

The UN Human Rights Office was able to verify that 46 people were killed in the context of the general strike against the policies of right-wing President Ivan Duque. More than three-quarters of the fatalities were due to gunshot wounds.

“Based on the information gathered and analyzed by the Office, there are reasonable grounds to believe that police officers were responsible for at least 28 of these deaths,” the report says, attributing 10 other killings to “non-state actors.”

All but 12 of the confirmed protest-related deaths were in the southwestern province of Valle del Cauca, whose capital, Cali, was for several weeks the epicenter of the strike.

Most of the dead ranged in age from 17 to 26 and tended to be residents of poor, neglected neighborhoods, De Rivero said.

She said that UN investigators were able to verify 16 of the 60 accusations the Human Rights Office received about sexual assaults by police.

The report, which was shared with the Colombian government several weeks ago, includes recommendations on ways to bolster the right to peaceful protest, De Rivero said. EFE


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