Home > Human Rights in Colombia > Human rights defenders > La Oficina Internacional para los Derechos Humanos – Acción Colombia -OIDHACO- pide garantías para las protestas en el marco del Paro Nacional del 21 de noviembre

The International Office for Human Rights – Action Colombia (OIDHACO) calls for guarantees during National Strike protests on 21 November

On 21 November a National Strike will take place in Colombia, organised by different social sectors who are demonstrating against national government policies, as well as the lack of progress in implementing the Peace Agreement with the FARC-EP, the situa

The strike is being held after regional elections in October and as a continuation of the National Strike of 25 April , the National "Minga" Protest in defence of life, territories and peace in March and April, and student demonstrations held in September and October.


Social organisations and movements have alerted to the risk of excessive use of force by members of the state security forces during the demonstrations, particularly the mobile anti-riot squad (ESMAD), as occurred in the student protests in October , and the army, as occurred during the protests in indigenous territories, where violent actions were used against the civilian population .


It is extremely worrying that the commander of the army, General Luis Fernando Navarro, has announced that during the National Strike on 21 November the army will be on standby to intervene if necessary ; and that the army will patrol the streets of the capital city prior to the strike . Also of serious concern are the draft decree on security measures for 21 November, which includes giving powers to mayors and governors to apply curfews and restrict circulation in public places ; and information of civil vigilante groups carrying out actions to suppress the demonstrations.


Added to this situation is stigmatisation against the organisers by members of the ruling party , which places social leaders at risk. On 5 May 2019, an attempted massacre was committed against leaders of ethic organisations who were holding a meeting to prepare for dialogue with the government during the National Minga Protests, after the protesters had already been threatened and stigmatised . According to Colombian NGO the Programa Somos Defensores, more than 100 human rights defenders were killed between January and September 2019, and in October alone, 11 indigenous leaders were killed.


Organisations have also warned about the risk of mass and widespread arrests against people exercising their right to protest, due to legislation which criminalises mobilisation and reduces guarantees for demonstrations . According to the campaign "defender la libertad es un asunto de ", from 7 August 2018 to 31 March 2019, 318 people were arrested under the pretext of "relocation for reasons of protection" and 51 people were arrested and subsequently prosecuted. In the case of the peaceful student protests in October, there were 89 arrests, and 2 people were prosecuted . On 19 November organisations who called the strike and media reported police raids on their offices.


In light of the violence committed against protesters by the state security forces, the stigmatisation and criminalisation of social protest and the militarisation of regional territories during social protest and mobilisation, Oidhaco asks the international community to monitor the National Strike on 21 November and urge the Colombian government to:


• Guarantee the right to social protest for Colombians as a legitimate form of political participation in a country transitioning towards peace and respect for human rights.

• Make progress to implement Interior Ministry Resolution 1190 of 2018 for a social protest protocol as a mechanism to prevent excessive use of force by the state security forces.

• Grant precautionary measures to protect the protesters, and address the social and political issues and demands of the sectors who convened the protests through dialogue and not through violent means or unlawful use of the justice system.

• Abstain from making declarations which smear and delegitimise social protest, and from making accusations which could place protesters at risk.


• Investigate abuse and violence alleged to have been committed by state agents and other perpetrators during the protests and punish those responsible.


For further information please contact Jorge Gómez, Oidhaco Coordinator, , tel.+32 2 5361913


See All