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3 Human Rights Challenges for the next President of Colombia - Position Note

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3 Human Rights Challenges for the next President of Colombia - Position Note
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    3 Human Rights Challenges for the next President of Colombia  Position Note The FIDH and its member organisations in Colombia, the Colectivo de Abogados Jose  Alvear Restrepo  - CAJAR and the Permanent Committee on Human Rights (CPDH = Comité Permanente de Derechos Humanos ), insist that there are three main human rights challenges that the next President of Colombia, who will be elected on Saturday 17 June 2018 1 , will have to face and prioritise as soon as he takes office on 7 August 2018. It is a key moment where the possibility of advancing towards the construction of a true and lasting peace could become a reality. Despite the humanitarian advances that the signing of the Peace Agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC signalled, which involved among other things, the abandonment of arms by the guerrilla group, the reduction of the homicide rate to its lowest level in the last 42 years and the holding of presidential elections without any disruption to law and order in the country 2 , Colombia has a massive human rights debt that prevents the consolidation of the democratic rule of law. The promotion and protection of human rights, together with the separation and independence of state powers and respect for the rule of law, are the fundamental principles for the consolidation of democracy. Consecrated in the Colombian Constitution and in the regional and international instruments signed and ratified by the Colombian State, these principles are imposed as a priority mandate for the next 4 years of government. During its third universal periodic review before the United Nations Human Rights Council in May this year, 86 countries made 211 recommendations to Colombia to improve the human rights situation in the country. The Colombian state accepted 183 of them. Among them, the FIDH and its leagues highlight in particular the state's voluntary commitment to continue to adopt measures for the protection of human rights defenders, to continue implementing the peace agreement with the FARC and to continue negotiations with the ELN. In this context, it is essential that the next president of Colombia express his real political will to guarantee human rights in Colombia and in particular lead his government to overcome the following human rights challenges: 1   Gustavo Petro or Ivan Duqué will be elected next 17 June by popular vote as President of the Republic of Colombia and he will govern for the next 4 years. 2   The Spectator, ‘Not a single law and order problem in elections: MinInterior”, 27 May 2018, in: https://www.elespectador.com/noticias/politica/ni-un-solo-problema-de-orden-publico-en-elecciones-mininterior- articulo-791045    Reduce the rate of impunity for the most serious crimes.  Colombian organisations condemn 98.68% of impunity in cases of forced disappearance and 88.43% in cases of extrajudicial executions 3 . Impunity is a structural problem in Colombia and as such, it requires structural measures to overcome it. Similarly, the recent corruption scandals that reached the highest courts in Colombia, the undue interference of senior government officials in judicial decisions, the chuzadas of  judges, as well as delays in the delivery of justice and the lack of officials, cannot continue to be the daily routine of the Colombian judicial system. It is therefore essential as a first step that the future government provide the judiciary with human and financial resources and guarantees of independence, as a first step towards overcoming some of the impunity. The functioning of the Special Justice for Peace (JEP) as a key pillar in the implementation of the Peace Agreement could lead to impunity for serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law if some specific measures are not taken. It is worrying that the JEP can only try civilian third parties whose participation has been active or determining in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity, an ambiguous condition that leaves their appearance to be voluntary. Also of concern are the limitations on the responsibility of the executive (article 23 of the Rome Statute), which establish numerous concurrent conditions and blur the provisions of article 28 of the Rome Statute.. 4 It is the responsibility of the Head of State to ensure that the rights of victims to truth,  justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition are a priority in the implementation of peace agreements. One of the priority issues for the effectiveness of these rights has to do with access to archives by the organs of the integral system of truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition. The President-elect should consider declassifying files related to entities that have participated in serious human rights violations (Charry Solano Battalion, 20th Brigade, Administrative Department of Security (DAS = Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad  ). There is an urgent need for the Government to promote measures to ensure that serious human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the country can be effectively investigated and punished and to combat widespread impunity in the country. The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court - The ICC has had a preliminary examination of these crimes committed in Colombia open for 14 years. In its latest report, the Prosecutor's Office concludes that there is a lack of domestic proceedings against those most responsible for the so-called False Positives cases, forced displacement, and crimes of rape over which the ICC may have jurisdiction if the national authorities do not have the will or the ability to investigate and prosecute these crimes. 5 .  3   Figures presented by the Coalition of Civil Society Platforms and Organizations for the UPR COLOMBIA 2018. 4   See our communiqué of 23 March 2017 ‘If the transitional justice system cannot judge businessmen and senior officials, the International Criminal Court must do so’.  5   See one of the communications sent to the ICC by the FIDH on false positives: War is measured in litres of  blood of 29 May 2012, in: https://www.fidh.org/es/region/americas/colombia/colombia-cpi/La-     The next president must commit to strengthening controls on the intelligence and counter-intelligence work of state entities, since in recent governments (both Uribe and Santos) this power has been abused to spy on human rights defenders, social leaders and people who have participated in peace negotiations. In this regard, we call for measures to be taken for the participation of civil authorities in the control mechanisms. Protect and guarantee the defence of Human Rights in Colombia. The increase in murders of human rights defenders continues to grow alarmingly, making Colombia the country with the highest number of murders of human rights defenders in the world. In 2017, between 106 and 126 human rights defenders lost their lives due to the inability of the state to protect them, according to the recent report ‘There is no peace for human rights defenders’ . 6 . The murders are added to the different aggressions such as threats, stigmatisation and criminalisation. The vulnerability of human rights defenders has increased dramatically since the demobilisation of the FARC and the signing of the Peace Agreement in rural areas, revealing other armed actors as their main aggressors, including the armed forces, and revealing an alarming inability of the state to confront this scourge. It is a priority for the government under its president to ensure that activists, human rights defenders and other leaders, especially in rural areas, are effectively protected in view of the current challenges facing the implementation of the Peace Agreement, ensuring, among other things, an effective presence of institutions in all areas of the country and an effective fight against the paramilitary structures, which are identified as the main perpetrators of the aggressions. The human rights of association, assembly and freedom of expression must be guaranteed. Peaceful protest is a mechanism for social expression and the enforceability of rights and as such its exercise must be guaranteed. In Colombia, protest has historically been stigmatised, repressed and criminalised. The Government will have to adopt a regulatory framework of protest and social mobilisation based on international standards. Reduce the negative impact of business on human rights. In January 2017, the government changed, among other things, the foreign investment regime, simplifying requirements and eliminating deadlines for the registration of foreign investments to make the domestic economy more attractive. 7 . Concern is focused on the agro-industry and extractive industries. In a post-agreement context, an increase in foreign investment in Colombia and in trade flows with other countries is expected to increase, which could reinforce FIDH-y-la-Coordinacion-Colombia; and see: ICC Office of the Prosecutor, Report on preliminary examination activities 2017, https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=171204-rep-otp-PE. James Stewart, ICC Deputy Prosecutor, ‘The Role of the ICC in the Tranisitional Justice Process in Colombia’,  https://www.icc-cpi.int//Pages/item.aspx?name=180530-otp-stat 6   Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, FIDH and OMCT programme, 15 May 2018, at: https://www.fidh.org/es/temas/defensores-de-derechos-humanos/colombia-no-hay-paz-para-las-  personas-defensoras-de-derechos-humanos-23151 7   Order 119 of 26 January 2017.    vulnerabilities of the communities and areas where the projects will be implemented. FIDH has documented cases in which national and foreign companies with the consent and/or support of state agents and officials in Colombia have violated human rights and even committed serious crimes against international law. The environmental and human costs of oil exploration and exploitation in Colombia clearly illustrate this situation. 8 . Reports from FIDH and its organisations reveal the role of business and state actors in increasing threats to defenders of the environment and the territory 9 , as well as requesting the International Criminal Court to investigate the role of executives of Chiquita Brands (a US company) to the commission of crimes against humanity in the Urabá Antioquia area. 10 . The current situation confirms the catastrophic impact that companies can have if an evaluation of their impacts and the human and environmental costs that the implementation of a business project can have is not carried out beforehand. The communities affected by the Hidroituango mega-project of the Public Enterprises of Medellín (EPM = Empresas Públicas de Medellín ), have denounced for more than 10 years the consequences that are being seen today: destruction of the environment, flooding of the Cauca river, displacement of the population, loss of livelihoods and livelihoods of the population near the river, aggressions, threats, militarisation, even assassinations of members of the Rios Movement that welcomes those affected by this project  11 … what else is expected to d ismantle this project? In addition to the above, in order to respond effectively to the human rights challenges in the country, the FIDH highlights the è Covenant on Human Rights ’  12 proposed by the recent Representative in Colombia of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Alberto Brunori, to whom the candidates committed themselves before the first round. The commitment of the President of Colombia to respect and guarantee the human rights of all Colombians will be fundamental to achieving a more just and humane Colombia. 8   See: FIDH, CAJAR, PASO, ‘The Human Cost of Oil: Human Rights Impact Assessment of Pacific Exploration & Production Corp. Activities in Port Gaitan.’ 12 July at:  https://www.fidh.org/es/temas/globalizacion-y-derechos-humanos/explotacion-petrolera-en-colombia-informe- revela-costos-humanos-y; 9   See: Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH/OMCT), CAJAR: ‘Defending the territory and the environment within the framework of extractive company activity’., 5 October 2017, at:  https://www.fidh.org/es/temas/defensores-de-derechos-humanos/colombia-informe-revela-el-rol-de-los-actores- empresariales-y 10   See: FIDH, International Human Rights Harvard Law School, CAJAR, ‘Contribution of Chiquita Executives to the commission of crimes against humanity in Colombia: Communiqué under article 15 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, at: https://www.fidh.org/es/region/americas/colombia/coalicion-de-organizaciones- de-derechos-humanos-pide-a-la-cpi 11   CAJAR, ‘HidroItuango: An irresponsible tragedy’, at:  https://www.colectivodeabogados.org/?+-Hidroituango-Una- tragedia-provocada-+#pagination_articulos 12   High Commissioner for Human Rights Colombia, ‘A Covenant for Human Rights: a reflection of the urgent challenges facing the state’, 24 de mayo de 2018, at:  http://www.hchr.org.co/files/Pronunciamientos/2018/pacto- derechos-cuatro-puntos_24_mayo-final.pdf  
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