The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) has said that dialogues between Colombian human rights groups and the business sector are positive, but said that it was concerned about the protection of some social groups, according to local media.
During a hearing of the IACHR on Thursday, different Colombian human rights organizations called upon President Juan Manuel Santos to adopt measures for the protection of communities that have been affected by the extraction of natural resources.
They also asked the president to stop the “stigmatization” of leaders of these communities, and for more precise measurements of the environmental impacts of these projects to be made before their implementation.
Despite these concerns, representatives of the IACHR – a body of the Organization of American States (OAS) – complimented the Colombian delegation for stimulating dialogues between companies, the government and civil society.
These dialogues revolve around how to avoid human rights violations in projects involving the environment.
“All large-scale projects generate certain difficulties, but the job of a democratic government is it to find balanced solutions,” said the Colombian representative before the OAS, Andres Gonzalez.
Gonzalez emphasized the substantial efforts that have been made in the last couple of years in the area of environmental protection, but also stressed that “millions of Colombians need energy.”
“The dialogue with civil society is ongoing,” said another Colombian state representative before the IACHR. “There is permanent control and participation of society in environmental affairs.”
This claim was challenged by Colombian human rights groups, who complained precisely about the lack of public participation in the course of the installation of mines and hydroelectric power plants.
They also reported cases of “forced displacement” and the “use of abusive force” against communities affected by these projects.
Colombia has a long history of controversy between economic interests, environmental concerns and human rights violations.