Jul 17, 2021 - World

Colombia's bloody record for handling protests

A couple at a protest in Pasto, Colombia, June 28.
A couple at a protest in Pasto, Colombia, June 28. Photo: Sebastián Maya/Long Visual Press/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Colombia has one of the highest protest death tolls in the world since the beginning of the pandemic, with one death every 36 hours, according to a report by the transitional justice and anti-impunity body Special Jurisdiction for Peace.

Details: At least 42 people were killed while demonstrating, and 24 — more than half — died in May, the group found.

  • A panel of international experts also found that law enforcement agencies used excessive force, committed sexual violence, “planted evidence and manufactured confrontation with infiltrated plains-clothes officers” in response to the protests and strikes that began in late April over socioeconomic inequalities.
  • 200 police officers are under disciplinary investigations, half of them over abuse of authority and 16 for possible murder.
  • More than 60 Colombians remain missing since the protests and are feared forcibly disappeared.

Between the lines: Violence overall has shot up in Colombia this year. Eighty-six activists have been murdered, and attacks from rebels and suspected paramilitary forces have displaced at least 44,290 people.

Go deeper