The government of Colombia’s far-right President Ivan Duque clashed with Congress over recommendations of the Organization of American States (OAS) on how to comply with human rights standards.
The OAS’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) released a scathing report over the security forces’ response to anti-government protests that left dozens dead since April 28.
In the report, the IACHR made 41 recommendations on reforms and actions that would allow the government and the security forces to comply with international human rights law.
Government believes human rights are optional
The OAS’ human rights commission additionally announced the formation of a special commission to monitor the government’s follow-up to the report and its recommendations.
In a response, Duque and Vice-President Marta Lucia Ramirez said that adhering to these recommendations wasn’t compulsory.
The government may indeed ignore specific IACHR recommendations, but could be found guilty of blatantly violating international human rights law.
The IACHR has the authority to prosecute OAS member states before the Inter-American Court for Human Rights.
Members of the president’s far-right Democratic Center party accused the OAS commission of bias and proposed to withdraw from the inter-American human rights system.
This proposal was rejected by State Defense attorney Camilo Gomez.
Recovering lost reputation
Congress’ peace commission asked the government on Thursday to reconsider its refusal to adhere to the OAS commission’s recommendations, claiming this would allow Duque to “recover the confidence and legitimacy on the international stage.”
Until last week, only the tyrannical regimes of Venezuela and Nicaragua were subject to a Special Monitoring Mechanism for Human Rights Issues of the IACHR.
The OAS commission’s president, Antonia Urrejola, told newspaper El Espectador on Friday that “the committee is confident that the differences can be overcome” as its monitoring mechanism is taking effect.
Duque has come under increased international criticism and scrutiny over his reluctance to implement a 2016 peace deal with the FARC, dictatorial tendencies and violations of human rights.
Ahead of the IACHR, the United Nations, US Congress and the European Parliament had already expressed their concern over the deteriorating human rights situation in Colombia.
Domestically, the far-right government has lost public support due to its response to the coronavirus pandemic and piling evidence of ties with organized crime.
Duque has tried to expand his control over next year’s elections that could result in a crushing defeat for the president’s political allies.
At the same time, the government coalition controversially approved and allegedly illegal new law that would allow the Inspector General to persecute political opposition.
The Supreme Court condemned the government in September last year for the violent repression of anti-government protests in 2019, but has yet to respond to the gross human rights violations registered this year.