Universal human rights exist whether or not they are recognized by those who hold the power of public office. All authorities, in order to hold office legitimately, must honor the universal right to remain free from violent persecution. Nonviolent protest, however inconvenient it may be for private enterprise or for public authorities, must never be met with violence. Any use of weapons against unarmed nonviolent protesters is a crime. When protesters are lawfully detained for acts of civil disobedience, those who hold them in custody must honorably serve and materially protect everyone they have detained.
The citizen activists we support work with a singular mission—to use constructive civic engagement to advocate for effective climate policies that are good for people. They should never face the threat of violence from anyone for their advocacy.
Colombia has been found to be the deadliest country in the world for environmental and land rights activists.
In September 2020, Colombia’s Supreme Court ordered the government to cease all use of force against nonviolent protesters, honor the right to peaceful protest, immediately allow access to and verification of the condition of any detained protesters, and to restructure security forces where necessary to comply with the order.
Recognizing the great responsibility public authorities have to all of the people of Colombia, Citizens’ Climate International is joining calls for the government to:
- cease all harassment of activists and protesters;
- open an independent investigation into alleged violent abuse of people detained during the protests—including allegations of assault, torture, rape, and disappearance;
- welcome international human rights advocates, UN agencies and foreign officials, as monitors in this process of investigation;
- and prosecute—with full protection of the rights of victims and witnesses and without interference from any public authorities—any law enforcement personnel who have engaged in violence against protesters, members of the community, press, or any person held in detention.
The best future for the people of Colombia, as for people anywhere, is one in which public authorities welcome and work with citizens to design and deliver sustainable development that honors the rights and dignity of all people.
If you would like to support efforts to honor the right to peaceful assembly, visit SOS-Colombia.co, and share their letter, which calls for the end of violence against peaceful demonstrators and the protection of universal human rights.