UN Rights Chief Calls for Independent Investigation into Deaths in Colombian Protests

United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urged for an independent investigation and accountability for the deaths and violence in Colombian protests.

“It is essential that all those who are reportedly involved in causing injury or death, including State officials, are subject to prompt, effective, independent, impartial, and transparent investigations and that those responsible are held accountable,” Bachelet stated.

In a statement released on May 30, Bachelet has expressed “deep concern” regarding the violence that has taken place during demonstrations in the southwestern Cali, the third largest city in Colombia with a population of 2.2 million.

According to the UN Human Rights Office, reports revealed that 14 people have died and 98 people have been injured since May 28. Of the injured, 54 were by firearms.

Bachelet’s office also cited receiving reports of armed individuals, including an off-duty judicial police officer, firing at demonstrators, journalists, and passersby.

Some reports also indicated that private individuals fired at demonstrators in the presence of police officers, according to the UN office.

The UN Human Rights Office in Colombia also received reports of at least 30 people arrested in Cali on May 28, prompting Bachelet to call for the assurance of “fair trial and due process rights.”

“I call for an end to all forms of violence, including vandalism, and for all sides to continue talking to each other, and to ensure respect for the life and dignity of all people,” Bachelet stated.

Protests began in Colombia last April due to a proposed bill that would have lowered the threshold on taxing salaries.

Although the government withdrew the bill, Colombians continued to protest over poverty, police violence, and the health crisis.

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