The Colombian Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights (UNHCR) released a statement Monday congratulating Colombia on its efforts to ensure “freedom, security and transparency” in Sunday’s congressional and primary elections.
Christian Salazar, the UNHCR representative in Colombia, hailed the elections as “the most peaceful in many years.”
The statement praised the authorities for their efforts to prevent violence and provide the “best conditions” for the elections.
The voting “took place in a general atmosphere of calm and there was a significant reduction in violence compared to recent elections,” according to the UN.
The statement noted a reduction in guerrilla activity, with only ten attacks by guerrilla group the FARC recorded on Sunday, compared to 71 in the elections of March 2006.
The UN did however have some criticism of the process, with complaints about electoral crime, including fraud and vote-selling, and a lack of female candidates.
Praise for the Colombian authorities is rare from from the UNHCHR, which earlier this month released a report criticizing ongoing violations of human rights and abuses of power taking place in Colombia. The report said that while security has improved in the country, a “climate of terror” still exists for certain groups.
Colombia’s measure to ensure security for Sunday’s elections include a weekend-long ban on selling alcohol, restrictions on carrying firearms until 6 AM Wednesday, and the posting of over 100,000 members of the armed forces and national police to guard polling booths.
The heightened security ensured that the elections took place peacefully: Bogota, which sees five or six murders on an average Sunday, did not register a single act of violence on election day, according to the district’s government secretary.
Colombian Defense Minister Gabriel Silva said Sunday that despite a few incidents, which were quickly dealt with, these congressional elections were Colombia’s calmest in 25 years.