UN urges Colombian officials to protect human rights

UN official expresses concern at killing of 17 people in protests against tax reforms

Beyza Binnur Donmez   | 04.05.2021
UN urges Colombian officials to protect human rights


The UN on Tuesday urged Colombian authorities to protect human rights and ensure police forces act proportionally, as 17 people reportedly died during protests against tax reform.

"We are deeply alarmed at developments in the city of Cali in Colombia overnight, where police opened fire on demonstrators protesting against tax reforms, reportedly killing and injuring several people," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Spokesperson Marta Hurtado said in a statement.

"We express our profound shock at the events there and stress our solidarity with those who have lost their lives, as well as the injured and their families," she said.

Urging for calm, she noted that the majority of the protests to date have been peaceful, reminding authorities of their responsibility to protect human rights, including the right to life and security of a person.

She also called for facilitating the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.

"We stress that the law enforcement officers should abide by the principles of legality, precaution, necessity, and proportionality when policing demonstrations, “she added.

At least 16 civilians and one police officer have reportedly died during protests, which began on Wednesday, according to the country's Ombudsman Carlos Camargo.

Meanwhile, 254 civilians and 457 police officers have also reported injuries in clashes between police and protesters in several cities.

Although protests are growing, President Ivan Duque had said he would revise the controversial bill but refused to withdraw in its entirety.

But finally, on Sunday, he withdrew the proposed tax reform.

Despite the announcement, new protests are being called in Bogota and other major cities, including Cali, Medellin, Barranquilla, and Cartagena.

The proposal was taken by many as a law. They believed that it would impoverish the middle class that has suffered during the pandemic.

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