Overview: Universal Periodic Review of Colombia (Third Cycle, May 2018)

Colombia’s compliance with international human rights was examined by the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group for the third time in May 2018. Colombia’s first and second UPR reviews had been held in December 2008 and April 2013, respectively.

In the run-up to the UPR in May 2018, ABColombia worked alongside other organisations to provide briefings and recommendations to the UK and Irish governments, and submitted a joint parallel report to the UN together with Oidhaco. In its “Summary of Stakeholders’ Information“, the UPR Working Group cited the Oidhaco joint submission (JS11) in relation to issues ranging from forced disappearances and paramilitarism to ethnic minorities and access to land.

We are pleased to see that the UK and Irish governments responded to ABColombia’s briefings and recommendations. A number of recommendations regarding ethnic minorities, Human Rights Defenders and gender-based violence were raised. We hope to see these implemented under the new Colombian Government.

United Kingdom

The UK welcomes the historic Peace Agreement between the Colombian Government and the FARC, and the opportunity it represents to improve stability in the country. However, key human rights concerns remain including violence against human rights defenders and significant rates of impunity in cases of conflict related sexual violence.

The UK recognises the efforts by the Colombian Government to tackle these challenges, including the creation of the Attorney General’s Special Investigation Unit.

– UK Mission to the United Nations in Geneva

The United Kingdom submitted the following advance questions:

  • What steps is the Colombian Government taking to ensure a successful procedural transfer of sexual violence cases from the ordinary justice system to the transitional justice system in order to ensure successful convictions?
  • What measures are being taken to implement the Ethnic Chapter of the 2016 Peace Agreement?
  • Will the Colombian Government invite the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders to visit Colombia and agree to collaborate on recommendations?
  • What measures is the Colombian Government taking in relation to the sexual and reproductive, physical and psychological health of victims or survivors of sexual violence?
  • What steps is the Colombian Government taking to ensure judicial investigations identify and convict the instigators (intellectual authors) of threats and murders of human rights defenders?

The United Kingdom made the following three recommendations to Colombia:

  • Implement a comprehensive protection system for Human Rights Defenders, especially for afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, backed by public statements that promote the role of human rights defenders.
  • Enhance relevant investigative and victim support expertise in the judicial system to increase prosecutions in cases of conflict-related sexual violence and reduce the high impunity rate for such cases.
  • Increase training and capacity to deliver the National Action plan on human trafficking, specifically techniques to identify patterns in cases of children and women victims, which lead to investigation and prosecution of the responsible criminal groups.

Source: UK Government, Universal Periodic Review 30: Colombia

Republic of Ireland

Ireland acknowledges the landmark achievement of Colombia’s Peace Agreement and strongly supports your efforts to implement its comprehensive provisions. (…) One of the main human rights challenges post-Agreement has been a troubling increase in attacks on Human Rights Defenders and social leaders. We acknowledge the institutional efforts being made to address this issue and encourage you to redouble your efforts to strengthen the application of the rule of law and the state presence across the country.

– Statement of Ireland

The Republic of Ireland made the following recommendations to Colombia:

  • that Colombia takes all necessary measures in order to protect human rights defenders against threats and attacks and to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.
  • that Colombia intensifies its efforts to address violence against women and that it continues to work to ensure full application of the laws against the perpetrators of such violence.

Ireland recognises the challenges of the reincorporation process and of ensuring the participation of victims at the centre of the implementation of transitional justice arrangements. We note that violence against women, particularly domestic violence, remains at unacceptably high levels, with more than 70,000 reported cases in 2017. We do acknowledge the legislative measures that have been put in place to address this issue.

Source: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Republic of Ireland

Video of Colombia UPR

The video below is dubbed in Spanish. To watch it in English, click here.