Colombia’s prosecution said Wednesday that it was investigating the disappearance of 84 people during protests against far-right President Ivan Duque.
The number of of investigations is considerably lower than the 539 people who have disappeared since protests began on April 28, according to think tank Indepaz.
The Prosecutor General’s Office said that 335 of the 419 people who had been reported as missing during the protests have since reappeared.
Discrepancy between government and NGO claims
Also the number of prosecution investigations into the murders of protesters is small compared to those reported by human rights organizations and Indepaz.
The prosecution said that it was aware of 54 homicides of which 24 would be related to the protests. Prosecutors are verifying whether 11 of the known homicides are related to the protests.
Indepaz said that 70 people were murdered in relation to the protests and that 46 of these homicides would have been committed by police.
Crimes allegedly committed against protesters
- 1,445 arbitrary arrests
- 1,133 protesters were assaulted or tortured by police
- 539 people were forcibly disappeared
- 70 protesters were murdered
- 25 women were sexually abused by police
Human Rights Watch Americas director Jose Miguel Vivanco said last week that his office had confirmed police were involved in at least 20 murders.
Vivanco spoke before the European Parliament on Wednesday to inform the European lawmakers about the mass violation of human rights committed to quell the anti-government protests.
The prosecution investigations are being conducted at the same time as investigations by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which visited Colombia earlier this month.
State ignoring crimes?
Prosecutor General Francisco Barbosa has been accused of selectively investigating crimes in an attempt to shield political allies of Duque, the chief prosecutor’s friend of more than 25 years.
Sebastian Lanz of human rights organization Temblores told German news website DW earlier this month that the discrepancy between the numbers reported by the prosecution and non-government organizations could be due to the slow response of the Ombudsman’s Office.
Like Barbosa, Ombudsman Carlos Camargo is a close political ally of Colombia’s increasingly tyrannical president.
Top officials charged for crimes against humanity
Opposition politicians filed criminal charges against Defense Minister Diego Molano and National Security Adviser Rafael Guarin for their alleged complicity in the violent repression of the protests.
Leading opposition Senator Ivan Cepeda said he had filed additional criminal charges against the president and the commanders of the National Police and the National Army before the International Criminal Court.
A Bogota court is additionally investigating whether government officials were in contempt for allegedly ignoring a 2020 Supreme Court order that sought to guarantee peaceful protests.