May 30, 2021 - Politics & Policy

UN human rights chief calls for investigations into protester deaths in Colombia

Soldiers on patrol in Cali after being deployed by President Duque

Soldiers on patrol in Cali after being deployed by President Duque. Photo: Gabriel Aponte/Vizzor Image/Getty Images

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Sunday called for investigations into the deaths of anti-government protesters in Cali, Colombia, following violent clashes between protesters and the military.

The state of play: Colombia recently entered its second month of anti-government protests, which were sparked by proposed tax reform but then widened into a social movement focused on poverty and inequality in the country.

  • Cali, the nation's third largest city, has been an epicenter for the protests and President Ivan Duque on Saturday deployed the military to "quell the unrest," the BBC reports.
  • Fourteen people have been killed in Cali since Friday and 98 have been wounded with 54 of these injuries resulting from firearms, per the statement from Bachelet's office.
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken "expressed his concern and condolences for the loss of life during recent protests in Colombia and reiterated the unquestionable right of citizens to protest peacefully" during a meeting with Marta Lucía Ramírez, Colombia's vice president and foreign minister on Friday, per a statement from State Department spokesman Ned Price.

What they're saying: “These events are all the more concerning given the progress that had been made to resolve, through dialogue, the social unrest that erupted a month ago,” Bachelet said in the statement.

  • “It is essential that all those who are reportedly involved in causing injury or death, including State officials, are subject to prompt, effective, independent, impartial and transparent investigations and that those responsible are held accountable."
  • Bachelet also called for the "fair trial and due process rights" of people detained during the clashes, of which the United Nations believes there are at least 30.

But, but, but: Not everyone agrees with the demonstrators. On Sunday, thousands of people marched in Bogota to show their support for the security forces and call for an end to the anti-government protests, Reuters reports.

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