People in Colombia, as anywhere else, have the right to a peaceful protest. This right, together with the freedom of peaceful assembly, association and freedom of expression is essential to any democracy, must be respected and protected, not suppressed by force.
Reportedly 23 civilians and a police officer have been killed and hundreds of persons were injured during the latest protests. The excessive use of force in repressing such protests, the escalation of violence and any further disproportionate use of force by the security forces must stop.
The EU trusts in the action of the institutions to investigate and to bring to justice those responsible for abuses or violations of human rights.
At the same time, the EU rejects and condemns the use of violence by those who mingle with peaceful protesters only to commit acts of vandalism. Their illegal actions stifle the voice of the citizenry, reduce the space for civil society to express itself, and generate chaos and disorder.
After decades of violence, Colombia needs to advance on the path towards peace. Colombia’s citizens deserve stability and certainty, especially in view of the serious challenges the country is facing caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The complexity of these challenges demand peaceful efforts by all political actors and civil society to reduce tensions; to promote inclusive dialogues; and to forge consensus on dealing with them. We welcome President Duque’s call for a national dialogue.