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Colombia: Bachelet Calls For Dialogue And Respect For Human Rights After New Reports Of Deaths And Injuries In Cali


GENEVA (30 May 2021) – UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights Michelle Bachelet has voiced deep concern at recent
events in the Colombian city of Cali, where reports indicate
that, since 28 May, fourteen people have died, and 98 people
have been injured, 54 of them by firearms during violence
that erupted in the city where demonstrations were taking
place to commemorate a month of national strike.

The
High Commissioner noted that her Office had received reports
that armed individuals, including an off-duty judicial
police officer, had opened fire towards demonstrators,
journalists covering the protests, as well as passers-by.
The judicial police officer in question was beaten to death
by a crowd. According to some reports, in parts of the city,
private individuals had fired shots at demonstrators in the
presence of police officers.

“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, following the start of a nation-wide strike
against several social and economic policies of the
Government,” Bachelet said.

“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,” she said.

“I call for an end to all
forms of violence, including vandalism, and for all sides to
continue talking to each other, and to ensure respect for
the life and dignity of all people,” the High Commissioner
said.

Bachelet stressed that only dialogue can resolve
the demands of different groups, both those who are taking
part in demonstrations and those opposed to the
protests.

“I welcome the commitment voiced by
several actors, in Cali and at the national level, to find a
negotiated and peaceful solution to the social unrest
through talks,” she said.

The UN Human Rights Office
in Colombia has also received information of at least 30
people who were arrested on 28 May.

“The fair trial
and due process rights of those detained need to be
ensured,” Bachelet said. In response to concerns about the
whereabouts of certain detainees, she also reiterated the
need to implement all necessary measures, in line with
international human rights standards, to prevent
disappearances.

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