The United Nations on Wednesday criticized the rights violations of demonstrators in the northeast of the country.
The UN high commissioner for human rights “expressed serious concern regarding the violations of economic, social and cultural rights in the Catatumbo region” via a statement from the agency’s office.
“Despite its natural wealth, the region has a high index of unsatisfied basic needs. Its population lacks adequate food, health, education, electricity, water supply, sewerage, roads and access to decent work.”
Representatives of the UN office visited the Catatumbo region in the last week of June and met with farmers, civil and military authorities.
Last month farmers in the region began demonstrating for the creation of rural reserve zones, as outlined in the land accord between the Colombian government and the FARC.
During the protests however, four civilians have been killed, and thirty are reported to have been injured at the hands of the security forces.
The UN called on prosecutors to “investigate the alleged violations of the right to life” of the deceased.
“The security forces have exercised an excessive use of force against demonstrators” added the statement.
The situation in Catatumbo escalated over the past few weeks when weeks after peaceful protests began, local farmers began blocking roads and riot police were sent to the area. In clashes that followed, four farmers were killed and at least 50 people — farmers and policemen alike — were injured.
The Catatumbo region, located at the Venezuelan border, is one of the most troubled regions in Colombia as it has become a major hub for drug trafficking to Venezuela and leftist rebel groups like the FARC and ELN exercise strong control in the remote area.
- Comunicado de Prensa del 2013 (United Nations)
- La ONU denuncia vulneración de derechos en región colombiana del Catatumbo (Diario vasco)
- ONU dice que en el Catatumbo ha habido ‘uso excesivo de la fuerza’ (El Tiempo)
- Protests in Catatumbo, Colombia, continue after more than 25 Days (NSNBC International)