Norway concerned about situation in Colombia

‘We are concerned about the events in Colombia and condemn the excessive use of force. Our thoughts go to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives. We support the call by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia. We urge all parties to remain calm, and prevent the violence from escalating,’ said State Secretary Jens Frølich Holte.

What started as peaceful protests against a tax reform has led to several dozen casualties and left several hundred people injured.   

‘The information from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on unnecessary use of force by the security forces, including use of live ammunition, is disturbing. It is important that all accusations of disproportionate use of force are thoroughly investigated. The OHCHR will play an important role in this. We are in continual contact with the Colombian authorities through our embassy in Bogotá, and the events now taking place in Colombia will be brought up in that dialogue,’ said Mr Holte. 

The situation can be seen as a continuation of the demonstrations that began in the autumn of 2019, where an important demand from the demonstrators was to fully implement the 2016 peace agreement and take action to improve the security situation. In addition, many people in Colombia have been affected by rising poverty and unemployment due to the Covid-19 pandemic.   

‘President Duque’s initiative for national dialogue to resolve the crisis is a first step. But the dialogue must yield concrete results that bring an end to the use of violence and address the root causes of the unrest. That is why today’s meeting between the authorities and representatives of the protesters is so important,’ said Mr Holte.

Norway has raised the situation of human rights defenders in Colombia as part of the follow-up of the peace process in the UN Security Council. As a facilitator in the peace process and a member of the Security Council, we will continue our efforts to achieve sustainable peace in Colombia.