As expected, Colombia’s President Ivan Duque on Thursday fiercely rejected the United Nations’ latest assessment of human rights in the country, calling the report “an intrusion of sovereignty.”
The president and the Foreign Ministry went full speed against the crushing report that confirmed military collusion with illegal armed groups, police brutality and the government’s failure to implement peace policies.
Colombia colluding with illegal armed groups, suppressing peaceful protest, failing to implement peace: UN
The government stood isolated though. Influential peace organization Defendamos la Paz said “we share the concerns of the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights” (OHCHR) in a response to Duque tirade.
The report confirmed the Duque administration’s widespread human rights violations in attempts to violently suppress student and anti-government protests last year, ties between the military and illegal armed groups, and the government’s failures to implement a 2016 peace deal with demobilized FARC rebels.
The OHCHR recommended transferring the National Police from the Defense Ministry to the Interior Ministry to “strengthen institutional capacity” And it criticized the absence of police and the prosecution in large parts of the country, leaving citizens at the mercy of illegal armed groups.
While I respect the multilateral nature of the organisation, I believe that this is an intrusion on a country’s sovereignty. This is a debate that should be conducted by the Colombian authorities, within the framework of Colombian institutions.
President Ivan Duque
The Foreign Ministry, which had ordered government officials to look for data and arguments to “undermine” the report, said the report “contains statements that attack the legitimacy of the institutions, which are imprecise and seem to go beyond the mandate that the Government has signed with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.”
Defendamos la Paz, however, reminded the government that human rights are universal “and above the principle of non-interference in internal affairs.”
President Duque has said that the report constitutes an intrusion on Colombia’s sovereignty. From Defendamos La Paz, we reply that the defense of human rights is above the principle of non-interference in internal affairs. This has been affirmed by universal and regional international bodies, including the Security Council.
Defendamos la Paz
Duque has come under increased pressure both nationally and internationally over his government’s reluctance to implement peace policies that are rejected by his far-right Democratic Center party.
This pressure increased even more after the security forces’ blatant human rights violations in attempts to violently suppress massive anti-government protests that began in November last year.