On July 7 the OAS Inter-American Human Rights Commission issued a report about the weeks of social protest that began in Colombia on April 28. The report extensively documents the Colombian security forces’ harsh and abusive response.
That same day, Colombia’s Foreign Ministry—less than delighted with the Commission’s report—published its response. That document claims:
the Colombian State has a solid democratic, participatory and pluralistic institutional framework, with a balanced institutional architecture between public authorities and autonomous bodies, with specific control functions and with the capacity to deal with events related to protests.
The country’s human rights community certainly disputes this, since Colombia’s institutions have usually had a hard time bringing serious abusers to justice, even when prosecutors and investigators have made good-faith efforts. But if it’s true, then recent moves in the U.S. Congress should be of no concern to the Colombian government.
The House of Representatives’ version of the 2022 foreign aid appropriations bill, which goes before the full House this week, would freeze 30 percent of aid to Colombia’s police through the largest police aid account, until the State Department certifies that the force is punishing serious human rights abusers among its ranks. This is the first time Colombia-specific human rights conditions have applied to police aid in many years.
If what the Foreign Ministry says here is true, then Colombia’s government should have no problem with this. If the country’s well-functioning, autonomous “institutional framework” punishes those responsible for massive abuses committed during the 2021 Paro Nacional protests, then the U.S. conditions will be met. They should be a non-issue, and the Colombian government should have no complaints here in Washington.
Let’s see what happens.