Colombia sued over violent repression of anti-government protests

(Image: National Police of Colombia) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Human rights activists and protesters sued Colombia’s government and police on Monday, demanding an immediate end to the violent repression of peaceful protests.

The plaintiffs asked a Bogota court to order the government of President Ivan Duque, the Bogota Mayor’s Office and the police to respect the rights of anti-government protesters and effectively end abuse.

According to the Committee for Political Prisoners, more than 1,000 people have been unlawfully arrested since protests against the government’s controversial economic and peace policies began on November 21.

The majority of these arrests allegedly took place in the capital where protests have been most intense and reports of human rights violations have been widespread.

The deficit in the protection of the right to protest and the constant threat to those who want to exercise it as a result of the systematic practices of the public force require an immediate and decisive intervention by the justice system.

Social organizations and victims of police violence

In order to end the repression and police abuse, the plaintiffs asked the court to remind the authorities they are not legally allowed to break up peaceful protests and use force only when necessary.

To prevent deaths, the court was asked to ban the use of bean bag guns that killed one student last month.

In order to be able to identify police accused of committing crimes, the plaintiffs asked the court to guarantee all police officers are duly identifiable.

Additionally, the human rights activists and citizens asked the court to order the formation of a working group that would allow human rights defenders, the security forces and the ombudsman to formulate a set of recommendations to prevent further human rights abuses.

The lawsuit is one of multiple that have been announced since the failed attempts to violently repress ongoing protest against the government of the increasingly authoritarian President Ivan Duque.

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