Human Rights Committee
26 June–28 July 2023
Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 40 of the Covenant
Replies of Colombia to the list of issues in relation to its eighth periodic report * , **
[Date received: 31 January 2023]
I.Constitutional and legal framework within which the Covenant is implemented
Views of the Committee
1.The Internal Working Group on Follow-up to Instructions and Recommendations Issued by International Human Rights Bodies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs takes steps to ensure compliance with the Committee’s Views.
2.Act No. 288 of 1996 established an inter-institutional committee to determine the agency that would be responsible for implementing the pecuniary measures recommended by the Committee.
3.The Government reiterates its willingness to work with the Committee to reach agreements based on respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms recognized in the Covenant.
4.The Ombudsman’s Office stated that it has issued the following early warnings and reports since Decree No. 2124 of 2017 entered into force:
(a)Early warnings: 260
2017: 1 early warning
2018: 86 early warnings
2019: 56 early warnings
2020: 54 early warnings
2021: 29 early warnings
2022: 34 early warnings
(b)Follow-up reports: 177
5.The follow-up reports contain the following information on changes in the level of risk inherent in the situations reported by the Ombudsman’s Office:
Diminished: 1 per cent
Maintained: 64 per cent
Tending to increase: 35 per cent
6.In 2022, the regional and provincial divisions of the Counsel General’s Office followed up on 32 early warnings issued by the Ombudsman’s Office.
II.The fight against impunity and human rights violations in the context of the internal armed conflict
Reparation provided to children and adolescents
7.The Directorate for Protection of the Colombian Family Welfare Institute has issued an operational manual of procedures and services for the restoration of children’s and adolescents’ rights as part of the administrative process for the restoration of rights. Three types of procedure are available for children and adolescents: initial placement procedures; procedures for supporting and strengthening the family or network; and care-related procedures. The guidelines state that support procedures must be tailored to the particularities and violations identified in each specific case. To this end, case plans setting out specific measures for the effective restoration of children’s and adolescents’ rights should be developed as part of the support procedures and services to enable the beneficiaries to overcome the situation that gave rise to the violation and ensure that they complete the administrative process for the restoration of rights and are definitively reintegrated into a family environment.
8.The Special Administrative Unit for Managing the Restitution of Expropriated Lands (Land Restitution Unit) reported that, as at 30 November 2022, 143,881 applications for restitution had been filed, 143,085 of which were individual applications. Of these, 117,536 are subject to microtargeting measures as they meet the security criteria necessary for the procedure to be initiated. A total of 25,549 applications relate to areas that are not being microtargeted as they pose a certain level of risk that prevents the procedure from being initiated. Of the total number of applications, 101,595 have been the subject of a substantive decision (65,594 applications refused, and 36,001 applications registered). A total of 32,628 of the registered applications are the subject of a claim filed with the courts. Of these, judgments ordering the restitution of land were issued in 13,697 cases, corresponding to a total area of 200,294 ha and benefiting 36,883 people, including 18,493 women.
9.The Land Restitution Unit reported that, as at 30 November 2022, 796 collective applications involving ethnic communities, corresponding to a total of 819 territories, had been initiated through informal channels, on the request of the parties or in response to court orders. Of these cases, 284 (corresponding to 295 territories belonging to ethnic communities) have been entered in the Register of Expropriated or Forcibly Abandoned Land. A total of 127 did not give rise to a recommendation to establish land rights violations and 7 were tacitly or expressly withdrawn. The adoption of a preliminary study without a recommendation to establish land rights violations leads to the cessation of the administrative process for the restitution of land rights. It should be noted that restitution goes beyond the right to property and is framed within a context of transitional justice, the purpose of which is to ensure the protection of the rights of victims in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Constitutional Court.
10.Since 7 August 2022, 2,356 applications for restitution (2,345 individual and 4 collective) have been received. During this period, 1,362 substantive decisions have been issued in respect of 1,335 individual applications and 27 collective applications. Under the Government of Iván Duque, 20,857 applications were received and 40,147 substantive decisions were issued.
11.Next year, the Land Restitution Unit plans to review the cases that either did not give rise to a recommendation to establish land rights violations or were withdrawn in order to determine whether the decisions concerned were based on the relevant evidential analysis and are in compliance with the applicable regulations.
12.Since 7 August 2022, a total of 339 administrative decisions issued during the administrative stage that resulted in the withdrawal, non-initiation or non-registration of an application have been overturned, affecting a surface area of 54,115 ha. The applications in question received a negative decision because the requirements for the creation of an entry in the register established in Act No. 1448 of 2011 were not considered to have been met.
13.For this reason, the Unit has considered establishing strategies for harmonizing the process. In order to address individual applications, for example, a team of professionals will be established within the Legal Directorate for Restitution to review negative decisions and determine whether they are in compliance with the applicable regulations and whether they contain the relevant analysis necessary for the adoption of the decision. With regard to collective applications, one of the strategies envisaged provides that, in order to avoid backlogs in granting restitution to ethnic groups, a prioritization exercise will be conducted when the goals for 2023 are defined so that these procedures are prioritized over new cases and those dating from previous years, thereby ensuring that greater attention is paid to ethnic communities and peoples.
Comprehensive reparation for victims
14.The Comprehensive Victim Support and Reparation Unit has provided figures from the Central Register of Victims relating to records for individual recipients (see annex 1) and recipients of collective reparations (see annex 2).
15.The Unit also provided the following information on the results obtained within the framework of the individual reparation process:
Individual compensation and respective transfers, broken down by victimizing event, ethnic affiliation, gender, age and disability: between 1 November 2020 and 31 October 2022, compensation was provided to 209,393 victims, which entailed 232,548 transfers and a budget of $2,011,146,072,899.
16.With regard to the comprehensive collective reparations plans approved and formalized with ethnic groups, campesino communities, organizations and groups, during the reporting period, progress was made towards the adoption of a comprehensive collective reparations plan applicable to 54 recipients of collective reparations (18 peasant communities, 8 organizations and groups, and 28 ethnic groups).
All recipients of collective reparations have access to psychosocial support at all stages of the process (outreach, characterization of harm, design and formulation of the comprehensive collective reparations plan and implementation of rehabilitation measures).
Rehabilitation measures have been implemented for 82 non-ethnic recipients of collective reparations as part of the strategy for strengthening the social fabric and measures have been finalized for 42 of these recipients. Over the same period, rehabilitation measures for ethnic groups have been implemented for 76 recipients of collective reparations and measures have been finalized for 12 recipients.
The rehabilitation measures implemented for ethnic groups are focused on strengthening the recipients’ own ways of recovering harmony and spiritual balance, based on their traditional ways of thinking. They serve to strengthen collective care practices, the participation of persons entitled to special protection, traditional ways of passing on knowledge and the recognition of coping and resistance mechanisms, thus ensuring that psychosocial support is provided and all beneficiariescan maintain their traditional world view and their own ways of preserving and maintaining harmony and spiritual balance.
With regard to measures of satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition for ethnic and non-ethnic groups, during the period concerned, 766 reparation measures were implemented, benefiting 159 recipients of collective reparation (56 ethnic groups, 90 non-ethnic groups and 13 organizations and groups). Of this total, 414 actions, benefiting 86 recipients, took place in municipalities where local development programmes were being implemented. Of the total number of actions implemented during the period, 133 were guarantees of non-repetition and 171 were measures of satisfaction, benefiting 104 recipients of collective reparations.
17.Information on the progress made under the Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace, provided by the Presidential Counsellor for Stabilisation and Consolidation, may be found below.
(a)Progress made in connection with the section on women and gender of the Framework Plan for Implementation.
Efforts have been made to ensure the implementation of the Plan through the approval of funding projects in the amount of $850,000 in collaboration with the United Nations multi-partner trust fund.
New representatives of the Special Women’s Agency have been selected by the Commission for the Follow-up, Promotion and Verification of the Implementation of the Final Agreement.
The Expert Working Group on Gender of the National Reintegration Council is addressing gender issues in reintegration through four strategies:
The gender measures set out in National Economic and Social Policy Council document No. 3931 of 2018 are being implemented at the local level through visits to prioritized departments and municipalities and follow-up on the implementation of gender plans.
National and local-level training sessions on reintegration processes and gender, in the form of awareness-raising workshops, are being organized for national and local officials.
The gender perspective is being mainstreamed in reintegration measures.
Steps are being taken to follow up on and promote the measures set out in National Economic and Social Policy Council document No. 3931 of 2018.
A document entitled “Strategic Guidelines on Gender Mainstreaming” was drafted and published.
The Government High-level Forum on Gender is in operation.
The Expert Working Group on Gender of the National Reintegration Council is in operation.
The Ministry of the Interior issued Decision No. 0845 of 2018 on the adoption of the Comprehensive Programme of Safeguards for Women Leaders and Human Rights Defenders.
The experts’ meeting on gender of the National Commission on Security Guarantees and the Operational Committee on Women and Gender of the High-Level Forum were established.
A digital tool entitled “This is how women advance in peacetime” was developed.
(b)Progress made in connection with the section on ethnicity
Between June 2020 and December 2022, steps were taken to promote the adoption of a project to finance the High-level Forum of Ethnic Peoples.
The Ethnic Expert Working Group on Reintegration of the National Reintegration Council has been launched and is currently defining its workplan.
The National Commission of Indigenous Women was established pursuant to Decrees No. 1097 and No. 1158 of 2020.
The National Planning Council amended its regulations to include representatives of the Roma population as standing invitees.
A total of 211 ethnic territories have been declared free of anti-personnel mines (74 during this Government and 25 in 2021). This corresponds to 57 per cent of the territories in which security conditions allow for humanitarian demining activities to be carried out.
(c)Achievements in connection with security and the protection of persons undergoing reintegration (para. 5)
18.As part of the State’s institutional strategy for the security of persons undergoing reintegration, including members of the Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Común (People’s Alternative Revolutionary Force) (FARC) political party and their families, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Stabilization and Consolidation oversees the coordination of 15 agencies that operate in this area. Within the scope of their functions and competencies, these agencies have coordinated more than 50 measures to strengthen the security of the persons concerned. The purpose of the measures taken is to strengthen the security of persons undergoing reintegration who belonged to the defunct Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army) (FARC-EP) and members of the FARC political party and their families. The 23 measures in question were mandated by the President of the Republic in June 2019 and were subsequently supplemented by more than 20 measures, as well as measures to ensure the security of candidates for the FARC political party in the local elections of October 2019.
19.Information on investigated acts, particularly those involving alleged human rights violations such as bodily harm, homicide, torture and enforced disappearance, was provided by the Counsel General’s Office and is contained in annex 7.
20.With regard to the measures taken to ensure full reparation for all victims, the Counsel General’s Office stated that, to date in 2022, the Office of the Specialized Counsel responsible for coordinating cases brought before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace has held 21 educational workshops and processed the claims of more than 500 victims involved in cases before the Special Jurisdiction. The victims in question are from Urabá Chocoano, Urabá Antioqueño, Norte de Santander, Meta, Antioquia, Nariño, Valle del Cauca and Cundinamarca. Using its powers of intervention to promote victims’ rights to truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition, the Office has submitted observations on the following:
The voluntary testimonies of former members of FARC-EP and the national army in the various macro cases
Matters that call for the naming of the most senior leaders and the identification of the crimes committed and the harm caused to the victims of the conflict
Acknowledgments of the truth made by members of the secretariat of the defunct FARC-EP and 23 former members of the security forces
Proposals for works and activities with a restorative and reparative purpose as part of the restorative component of the penalties to be handed down by the Special Tribunal for Peace
21.The Counsel General’s Office acts as a special participant in the seven macro cases before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace. To date, it has:
Issued 732 opinions in individual cases
Filed 132 macro opinions with the Special Jurisdiction for Peace
Conducted 2,838 preparatory studies as part of the macro cases
Participated in 986 hearings and proceedings
Conducted 1,106 preparatory studies for hearings and proceedings
Carried out 1,237 actions related to victims
22.In connection with the National Commission on Security Guarantees, the Office of the Specialized Counsel for the Peace Agreement has taken the following preventive actions:
Ongoing monitoring of women leaders’ and human rights defenders’ security conditions, promoting the implementation of protection schemes and other protective measures
Follow-up on cases of women undergoing the reintegration process who were murdered, with a view to advancing the investigations
Ongoing monitoring of the security strategy in place for women undergoing the reintegration process
Inclusion of cross-cutting gender analysis in the Fourth Report to Congress, setting out 29 recommendations to strengthen policies and measures benefiting women and people of different sexual orientation and gender identities living in rural areas who are undergoing the reintegration process, and women leaders and human rights defenders who are victims of the conflict
Coordination with the Expert Working Group on Gender of the National Reintegration Council to strengthen the implementation and localization of the gender measures set out in National Council on Economic and Social Policy document No. 3931 of 2018
Follow-up on Decision No. 1057 of 2022 of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and the strategy for the family members of deceased persons who had been undergoing the reintegration process
23.According to the information system of the oral adversarial criminal justice system of the Attorney General’s Office, between 1 November 2020 and 30 November 2022, 151 prosecutions were brought for acts of racism or discrimination in the context of the armed conflict. Under Colombian criminal law, these allegations correspond to acts of racial discrimination, racism, harassment based on race or other grounds, and advocacy of genocide, which are addressed in articles 147, 134 A, 134 B and 102 of the Criminal Code.
24.With regard to reports of criminal offences related to conduct potentially intended to protect human rights or the right to life, between 1 November 2020 and 30 November 2022, 17 expedited cases involving homicides described by the security forces as combat casualties were entered in the information system of the oral adversarial criminal justice system.
25.For the period in question (1 November 2020 to 30 November 2022), the oral adversarial criminal justice system registered six expedited proceedings for offences related to torture (arts.137 and 178) and inhuman and degrading treatment and biological experiments on protected persons (art. 146) within the framework of the armed conflict.
III.State of emergency
26.In order to tackle the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Directorate for the Provision of Health Services and Primary Care of the Ministry of Health took a number of measures, including:
(a)Establishing health-care protocols for the diagnosis and treatment of suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19;
(b)Implementing monitoring and prevention measures, including the distribution of personal protective equipment for health-care staff and the implementation of physical distancing measures;
(c)Strengthening the health-care network to cope with the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, including by opening field hospitals and hiring additional staff;
(d)Conducting information-sharing campaigns to promote preventive measures and disseminate information about the virus and how people can protect themselves against it;
(e)Working with other institutions and international organizations to obtain the technical and financial support required to deal with the pandemic;
(f)Developing contingency and emergency response plans to guarantee the continuity of health-care services and to protect the public;
(g)Coordinating with other government agencies and the private sector to ensure the provision of supplies and equipment necessary to deal with the pandemic;
(h)Conducting wide-scale testing for the virus to identify and isolate infected persons and prevent the virus from spreading;
(i)Establishing isolation and quarantine centres for people who have been in contact with confirmed cases of COVID-19 or who present symptoms consistent with the disease;
(j)Developing a digital platform to monitor and follow up on COVID-19 cases and to facilitate decision-making in pandemic management;
(k)Purchasing vaccines to immunize members of the public and protect them against the virus;
(l)Implementing special protection measures for at-risk groups such as older persons and those with chronic diseases.
27.The measures taken by the Ministry of Health also include: implementing health-care protocols and monitoring and prevention measures; strengthening the health-care network; conducting information-sharing campaigns; coordinating with other agencies and organizations; developing contingency and emergency response plans; carrying out screening tests; establishing isolation and quarantine centres; developing a digital platform for follow-up and monitoring; purchasing vaccines; and implementing special protection measures for at-risk groups.
IV.Violence against women, including domestic violence
28.With regard to the safeguarding of women’s rights, the Ministry of Health reports that the following measures have been taken in the area of health:
1.Establishing hotlines and support lines for women victims of violence, including emergency telephone lines, and support and counselling centres;
2.Implementing health-care protocols to provide counselling and treatment, including psychological support and medical care, to women victims of violence;
3.Conducting prevention and awareness-raising programmes to promote gender equality and respect for women’s rights;
4.Promoting the active participation of women in decision-making and defining public policies relating to gender-based violence;
5.Coordinating with other institutions and organizations to ensure comprehensive care and protection for women victims of violence;
6.Conducting information-sharing campaigns to disseminate information on gender-based violence and promote the reporting of cases of violence;
7.Strengthening the health-care network to provide specialized and quality care to women victims of violence.
29.The Comprehensive Victim Support and Reparation Unit drew attention to the following developments:
During the reporting period, administrative compensation was awarded for victimizing events involving offences against freedom and sexual integrity (see annex 8).
Psychosocial programmes relating to violence against women, children and adolescents were implemented, including the comprehensive reparation strategy entitled “Strengthening Capacities through a Rights-based Approach”. This strategy is implemented through seven methodologies incorporating a differential, gender-sensitive approach that help to strengthen the participating victims’ life plans within their family and social environments and foster a sense of the restorative and transformative nature of their claims for compensation. The strategy incorporates measures of satisfaction and measures that favour non-repetition.
Psychosocial programmes of the Comprehensive Victim Support and Reparation Unit relating to violence against women, children and adolescents
30.The Comprehensive Victim Support and Reparation Unit has implemented the “Strengthening Capacities through a Rights-based Approach” comprehensive reparation strategy, which was launched in 2019. The strategy is implemented through seven methodologies incorporating a differential, gender-sensitive approach that help to strengthen the participating victims’ life plans within their family and social environments and develop a restorative and transformative sense of their claims for compensation. The strategy incorporates a measure of satisfaction and measures that favour non-repetition.
31.This methodological approach enables the Unit to fulfil its commitment to strengthening the comprehensive reparation process by adopting a differential and rights-based perspective, specifically for persons entitled to special protection (see annex 9)
CRE-SER: This strategy, which is aimed at children between 6 and 12 years of age, promotes the participants’ self-esteem and autonomy, knowledge of their rights as citizens and persons entitled to special protection, and recognition of their skills and abilities.
“Projecting Ourselves” (Proyectándonos): This strategy, which is aimed at adolescents between 13 and 17 years of age, strengthens their knowledge of human rights and their rights as persons entitled to special protection. It enables them to see themselves as worthy people with abilities and strengths, helping to mitigate the non-material harm caused by the conflict. It also provides tools that help the participants to develop their life plans.
“Revitalize Yourself” (Vivificarte): This strategy is aimed at women between 18 and 65 years of age. It has helped the participants to obtain redress by strengthening their abilities and capacities, acknowledging the harm caused by the conflict, using this common past and their memory of it, stimulating reflections and knowledge around human rights, the importance of historical memory and its relevance to the present, and using these elements to generate empowerment tools that allow them to construct or reconstruct a vision of a better future.
Protection of human rights defenders
32.The Counsel General’s Office has taken the following preventive measures:
Supporting the process of identifying and mapping organizations and women leaders and defenders in local areas, carrying out training and capacity-building, and developing advocacy, management and support agendas in forums for consultation with local authorities
Following up on the 2019–2022 National Action Plan
Participating in forums for discussion with United Nations agencies such as UN-Women and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (OHCHR)
Participating in discussion forums and conducting follow-up with platforms and organizations of women leaders and defenders
Coordinating with the delegate of the Ombudsman’s Office responsible for women’s rights and gender issues in joint work spaces
Supporting risk management and carrying out measures to protect women leaders and defenders in local areas
Participating in inter-institutional bodies responsible for the implementation of the Comprehensive Programme of Safeguards for Women Leaders and Human Rights Defenders and the comprehensive protection of women leaders and defenders
Engaging in ongoing dialogue with the Ministry of the Interior
Coordinating with the Office of the Specialized Counsel with Combined Responsibilities for Criminal Matters, within the framework of the PROMUJERES strategy, to develop a follow-up mechanism called the round table on case follow-up, two of which were held in 2020:
Putumayo: where 19 threats of homicide, disappearance and sexual violence were followed up
Montes de María: where 33 cases were followed up
33.The Ministry of Justice implemented the Comprehensive Programme of Safeguards for Women Leaders and Human Rights Defenders, under which 28 national agencies coordinate action to develop the following strategic areas:
(a)Prevention: emphasis is placed on strengthening women’s leadership, and organizations of women leaders and human rights defenders, in order to reduce the risks inherent in their work;
(b)Protection: efforts are made to enhance the capacity of institutions to respond to situations of imminent risk;
(c)Guarantees of non-repetition: measures are taken to combat impunity and safeguard historical memory, starting with women living in rural Colombia, especially those who work to defend lives and land, since they are more at risk of violence and violations of their human rights.
Access to justice for women
34.The Ministry of Justice has implemented the “Building Justice: University Network for Equality, Inclusion and Transparency” strategy, in which 136 law schools with legal clinics participate. The purpose of the Network is to encourage universities to cover gender issues in training programmes for future lawyers, including measures to identify situations of violence affecting women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons and to provide them with support. Support is also provided to police stations specializing in family affairs and to local authorities, police inspectorates, conciliation centres and other actors in the justice sector.
35.Training and technical assistance have been provided in connection with gender-based violence, support with a gender focus, road maps for support, domestic violence, contexts of discrimination and special protection for women leaders and human rights defenders. Furthermore, guidelines on the provision of support to women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons in services that provide access to justice have been implemented, a process that has involved conducting training activities, assessing service provision in the light of the technical guidelines, preparing improvement plans, providing specialized support in compliance with the improvement plan and conducting a final assessment to highlight the changes made.
36.The Directorate for Transitional Justice of the Attorney General’s Office has analysed the impact of crimes involving gender-based violence that occurred in the context of the armed conflict. In 2013, it began to piece together the pattern of macrocriminality relating to the various armed groups that made up the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia).
37.Between 2020 and 2022, as an investigative strategy, priority was given to the effective processing of proceedings related to gender-based violence, among other issues.
38.Between 1 November 2020 and 30 November 2022, 786 cases involving gender-based violence against 900 victims were investigated. A total of 2,375 cases, involving 2,582 victims, are being heard before the justice and peace courts.
39.With regard to the number of reports involving at least one female victim of sexual violence, femicide or domestic violence, the Directorate for Policy and Strategy states that, between 1 January 2020 and 30 November 2022, reports were received of 82,772 offences related to sexual violence, 187,876 cases involving domestic violence and 1,125 cases involving femicide.
40.Reports indicate that, between 2016 and 31 October 2022, 84 victims were women human rights defenders or leaders. Of these, progress has been made towards clearing up 54 cases, corresponding to 64.29 per cent of the total. These cases are at the following stages:
Execution of sentence/conviction stage: 17
Trial stage: 16
Investigation stage: 9
Inquiry stage with arrest warrant pending: 7
Estoppel / death of the suspect: 5
41.The Ombudsman’s Office recorded 36 violations against women social leaders and human rights defendersbetween November 2020 and November 2022. Of these, progress has been made towards clearing up 16 cases, corresponding to 44.44 per cent of the total. These cases are at the following stages:
Trial stage: 6
Investigation stage: 2
Inquiry stage with arrest warrant pending: 6
Estoppel / death of the suspect: 2
V.Voluntary termination of pregnancy and reproductive rights
42.The Ministry of Health stated that it has taken the following measures:
Developing policies and programmes to guarantee access to quality reproductive health services and the protection of reproductive rights
Implementing health-care protocols to ensure the safe and efficient provision of reproductive health-care services, including abortion services
Conducting information-sharing campaigns to promote reproductive health and rights and to raise awareness of the importance of these issues
Strengthening the health-care network to guarantee access to quality reproductive health services and reduce the gap in access to these services
Coordinating with other institutions and organizations to ensure comprehensive support for, and protection of, reproductive rights
Promoting women’s active participation in decision-making and defining public policy on reproductive health and rights
Setting up hotlines and support lines to provide counselling and guidance on reproductive health and rights
43.The Ministry of Health has taken a series of measures to promote reproductive health and rights, including the right to access abortion services. These measures include developing policies and programmes, implementing health-care protocols, conducting information-sharing campaigns, strengthening the health-care network, coordinating with other institutions and organizations, promoting women’s active participation and setting up hotlines and support lines.
Arrests for the offence of abortion
44.The Directorate for Protection and Special Services of the National Police reported that, according to information obtained from the crime and operational statistics information system, there were 10 arrests for the offence of abortion in 2021 and 3 in 2022.
VI.Right to life
Reform of the National Police
45.In response to the recommendations made by the United Nations regarding the national strike of 2021, the Police established the Unit for Dialogue and Maintenance of Order, to be deployed as a measure of last resort, and guidelines on restoring harmony and public security. It has also been established that riot control should be considered a measure of last resort in restoring public order. Checks have been carried out on the ground to ensure that officers are complying with police regulations.
46.A road map for training officers has been established that encompasses the following five areas:
The basic tactical system employed by the police
Resilience and stress management (HeartMath)
Support for citizens
47.The Human Rights Commissioner of the National Police has carried out the following training activities to strengthen the knowledge of uniformed members of the National Police:
In coordination with the Sergio Arboleda University, the National Police held a train-the-trainers course on human rights and the appropriate use of force for 100 officers of the National Police, 70 human rights officials and 30 instructors of the National Directorate of National Police Academies.
In August and October 2021, an online seminar on approaches to human rights was held by the Pontifical Xaverian University for 150 officers of the National Police assigned to directorates, metropolitan units, departmental units and the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (now known as the Unit for Dialogue and Maintenance of Order).
Training was provided to the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (now known as the Unit for Dialogue and Maintenance of Order) in conjunction with EAFIT University (the School of Administration and Finance and the Technological Institute). The training took the form of a seminar/workshop on mechanisms for protecting human rights and groups entitled to special constitutional protection in Colombia. It was attended by 1,890 officers of the unit.
A seminar on gender and police leadership for transforming human relations in the workplace was attended by 98 officers.
In conjunction with Santiago de Cali University, 100 officers of the National Police were trained in human rights.
An online diploma course on gender mainstreaming was made available to 70,000 State officials.
48.With the support of the Ministry of Defence and the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Colombia, the National Police has conducted the following training activities:
Conferences on sexual violence
Workshops on international standards on the use of force
Training in the use of force and the maintenance of public order
Model for the implementation of the comprehensive overhaul of the National Police
49.The model for the comprehensive overhaul of the National Police is aligned with the National Development Plan, the Strategic Sectoral Plan, the Framework Policy on Harmonious Social Relations and Citizen Security and the Sustainable Development Goals. As part of the process, a road map for strengthening social trust by establishing a quality police service that is close to the public, transparent, innovative, humane and much more effective is being developed. Online conversation and participation forums have been set up, including an online chatbot through which citizens could participate in the process (13 submissions had been received as of 2021, with a further 8 being sent by email to the Advisory Board). The submissions related to proposals, shortcomings, strengths, concerns, complaints and other matters.
50.The police authorities have established the following eight strategic projects, to be implemented by the Human Rights Commissioner for the National Police with technical assistance provided by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to strengthen respect, safeguards and protection for human rights:
1.The Four-year Human Rights Plan, developed in conjunction with civil society with the assistance of international experts;
2.A training programme on human rights standards for judges and officials responsible for processing disciplinary proceedings;
3.The human rights observatory, which is responsible for collecting, processing and analysing data in order to categorize incidents and construct contexts in the field of human rights;
4.The establishment of the Antonio Nariño Institute for Research into Human Rights and Social Conflict, the purpose of which is to generate studies and conduct research into human rights, the use of force and the gender perspective, among other areas, in collaboration with national and international agencies and human rights organizations in order to strengthen the police service;
5.The establishment of mandatory courses and certification in human rights, assessing the extent of adoption of human rights principles and standards;
6.The development of commanding officers’ ability to engage in dialogue with civil society, including human rights organizations; community leaders and action committees; Indigenous communities and people of African descent; members of the LGBTI community, young persons and university students; and industrial and trade unions;
7.A radio programme on human rights and mechanisms for communicating with sectors of civil society;
8.The gender perspective and gender mainstreaming in the National Police.
Standing inter-institutional committee
51.In line with the commitment made by the Ministry of Defence to the families of the victims of incidents that occurred during the public unrest, a standing inter-institutional committee has been established to review the investigations being conducted by the units implicated in the context of the demonstrations.
52.The activities that the committee undertakes include the following:
1.Reviewing the progress made and the disciplinary and criminal decisions adopted in homicide cases;
2.Reviewing the 57 disciplinary proceedings that had been dismissed;
3.Ensuring that the information on each case is updated by the units;
4.Issuing and providing feedback on information.
New police disciplinary regulations`
53.The purpose of the new police disciplinary regulations is to ensure respect for the guiding principles and standards set out in international human rights systems, in accordance with Act No. 2196 of 2022. The regulations define the concept of police discipline, provide for the impartiality of proceedings and establish a system of safeguards for the formulation, consultation and follow-up of complaints by citizens. The main amendments made to the regulations are:
New petty offences, misdemeanours and felonies have been incorporated, including:
Excessive use of weapons, force and coercive means, resulting in damage to property and harm to the integrity of persons
Actions that undermine institutional transparency, including conduct that violates the regulations governing admission and promotion processes, which may give rise to a failure to comply with the requirements
Facilitating the unauthorized distribution of information, using technologies that affect the work of the institution and misusing social media
Concealing identity of/as a police officer
Interfering with or preventing the recording of police work
Encouraging or allowing the mistreatment of animals
Carrying out irregular actions when health measures are in force or when off duty
Failing to comply with the regulations governing the institutional health system
Abuse of authority in police work
Improper interference with peaceful public demonstrations
Police discipline is enforced through a series of constitutional, legal and regulatory provisions that must be observed by all uniformed personnel in order for police work to be performed correctly, in the form of principles and values, the police code of ethics and the ethical foundations of policing, among other guidance.
In order to strengthen the handling of complaints and disciplinary proceedings, improvements have been made to the procedure for ensuring prompt processing of reports of possible human rights violations submitted by the public and correct follow-up on due process.
Increased professionalization among officials responsible for processing disciplinary proceedings is being promoted with a view to prioritizing autonomy and independence in disciplinary investigations, and the Comprehensive Policy on Police Transparency is being applied more effectively.
Mechanisms for promoting civic participation and accountability include the system of safeguards for the formulation, consultation and follow-up of complaints by citizens, which is accessible to the public, and the mandatory public hearings that take place twice every year to report on progress and results.
A new post with responsibility for disciplinary matters – the Special Inspector for Public Demonstrations – has been established to undertake disciplinary investigations into complaints submitted by citizens against police procedures involving violent acts that violate the right to demonstrate in public.
With regard to institutionalguidance, the Manual on Human Rights in Police Work regulates police officers’ conduct and is applied whenever they violate the regulations or the fundamental rights established in the Constitution or the international instruments that Colombia has ratified. In addition, the basic tactical system employed in police operations is taught in academies in order to incorporate teaching and learning about protocols that promote dialogue and absolute respect for rights and freedoms.
With regard to the gender perspective, Decision No. 03872 of 19 November 2021 provided for the adoption and implementation of criteria for mainstreaming the gender perspective within the institution to ensure compliance with international standards and national and international regulatory, legal and procedural instruments.
Massacres in the country
54.Between November 2020 and October 2022, 60 events took place that left 278 victims. The number of incidents per month and other disaggregated data are shown in annex 10.
55.The Attorney General’s Office reports that, as at 1 December 2022, 24,241 cases of homicide, involving 29,798 victims, are at the investigation phase, while 52,420 cases, involving 61,801 victims, are before the justice and peace courts.
56.Between November 2021 and December 2022, prosecutors attached to the Directorate for Transitional Justice brought charges in connection with 10,944 acts, which had implications for illegal groups such as the Bloque Metro, Bloque Norte, Bloque Cacique Nutibara, Bloque Sur Oeste Antioqueño and Bloque Héroes de Granada.
57.For the period between 1 November 2021 and 30 November 2022, the Directorate for Transitional Justice, in compliance with the victims’ rights to truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition, brought charges in connection with 24,539 acts before the justice and peace courts. A total of 768 case files were transmitted to the ordinary justice system by prosecutors attached to the Directorate for Transitional Justice. In addition, the justice and peace chambers of the judicial district high courts issued three judgments involving 14 indicted persons and 101 acts.
58.The Asset Recovery Group of the Directorate for Transitional Justice transferred 435 items of property worth 433,120,754,558 Colombian pesos (Col$) ($95,222,766.75) to the Victims Reparation Fund to be used as reparations.
59.In 2018, the Special Investigation Unit began designing and implementing an investigation and prosecution methodology to help to break up criminal organizations that commit acts of violence against human rights defenders and thereby undermine the implementation of the Peace Agreement signed in 2016 with the FARC-EP.
60.The Special Investigation Unit has set up 13 regional projects (structural investigations into criminal organizations), 3 of which are targeting criminal groups belonging to the so-called successors of paramilitarism in Riosucio in the department of Chocó, in the Bajo Cauca region of Antioquia and in the department of Casanare.
VII.Liberty and security of person
Transfer for protective purposes
61.The National Police stated that transfers for protective purposes are provided for under article 155 of Act No. 2197 of 2022, which establishes that:
62.When a person’s life or integrity is at risk or in danger and he or she does not accept police mediation as a mechanism for resolving the dispute, uniformed personnel of the National Police may transfer him or her for protective purposes in the following cases:
(a)When he or she is involved in a dispute;
(b)When he or she is wandering around in a helpless state;
(c)When he or she is suffering from mental derangement;
(d)When he or she is, or appears to be, intoxicated by alcohol or illegal drugs and is acting aggressively or recklessly;
(e)When he or she is engaging in dangerous or risky behaviour that poses a risk to his or her life or integrity, or that of others;
(f)When he or she is in danger of being assaulted.
63.In this regard, the National Police provides the following clarifications:
The National Police will hand the person over to a family member who will assume responsibility for his or her protection or, failing that, to the coordinator of a protective transfer centre to safeguard his or her rights.
The local, district and municipal authorities are responsible for establishing and equipping protective transfer centres.
Monitoring measures and procedural formalities for admission and discharge, the reason for the transfer, and the place to which the person is transferred must be overseen by officials of the Mayor’s Office, the Public Legal Service and the Ombudsman’s Office.
Under no circumstances may a person who is transferred for protective purposes be taken to facilities of the National Police or places of deprivation of liberty.
In places where there is no protective transfer centre, this police measure will not be carried out until the local, district or municipal authorities have established a suitable place where respect for fundamental rights is guaranteed.
The Municipal Mayor’s Office and the Public Legal Service will oversee the monitoring measures and procedural formalities for admission and discharge, the reason for the transfer and the place to which the person is transferred.
VIII.Elimination of forced labour and trafficking in persons
Measures to prevent trafficking in persons
64.The Colombian Family Welfare Institute has stated that it has carried out the following actions:
(i)The differentiated support programme addresses the prevention of trafficking in persons in contexts of international mobility and was implemented in partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for the benefit of 1,503 migrant and host community children, fathers, mothers and caregivers in 13 municipalities in the country. The municipalities were selected because of their geographical position and territorial dynamics, which have facilitated trafficking in persons and other risks associated with migration flows.
(ii)Under the “Generation Explores” Programme (Programa Generación Explora), specialized sessions on the prevention of trafficking in persons are held to break down established mindsets, transform stereotypes and prejudices that normalize and legitimize violence against children and promote skills, strengths and opportunities for change in each region, benefiting the lives and development of the children who participate in the programme.
(iii)Where technical assistance is concerned, 48 online and 1 face-to-face assistance sessions have been carried out since 2021 for the benefit of 3,973 public officials and strategic allies of the Colombian Family Welfare Institute throughout the country.
(iv)Social mobilization measures are promoted to prevent trafficking in persons. For 2022, commitment No. 2 of the Institute’s management agreement is to design, implement and follow up on strategies for preventing sexual violence at the local level, the commercial sexual exploitation of children and adolescents and trafficking in persons affecting children. To this end, the Institute’s 33 regional offices began designing, reviewing, implementing and evaluating measures to strengthen knowledge and protective capacities by highlighting the different purposes of trafficking in persons, seeking to denormalize certain social and cultural practices and promoting self-protection tools and the recognition of rights.
65.The Counsel General’s Office has an email address – email@example.com – to which reports of trafficking in persons and sexual exploitation may be sent. In 2021, as part of the #365DíasContraLaTrata campaign, the Office received reports of 37 cases in which the Anti-trafficking Operations Centre took action. In addition, it followed up on and monitored the activities of anti-trafficking committees at the departmental and departmental capital levels.
66.The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Human Rights and Migration Colombia agreed on measures for implementing the National Strategy to Combat Trafficking in Persons 2020–2024, which was adopted by Decree No. 1818 of December 2020. The Strategy envisages extensive local-level action in the field of prevention, awareness-raising, capacity-building, victim support and protection, and the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offences.
67.Migration Colombia launched LibertApp, a technology tool for combating trafficking in persons. Citizens can use the application to gain direct access to information, submit reports, request assistance and respond immediately to incidents of trafficking in persons.
68.With regard to child labour, the Directorate for Children of the Colombian Family Welfare Institute, in accordance with the Public Policy for the Prevention and Eradication of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents, has taken the following preventive measures:
Enhancing twenty-first century skills as tools for self-protection against rights violations
Developing a strategic procedure for providing local technical support to strengthen the knowledge, competencies and skills of the different local stakeholders in preventing child labour, carrying out a total of 129 technical support activities in which 3,659 officials of the National Family Welfare System took part
Strengthening partnerships with private companies, especially the Asociación de Cultivadores de Caña de Azúcar de Colombia (the Colombian Association of Sugar Cane Growers, known as Asocaña), in order to mitigate situations of risk relating to child labour
Focusing on entrepreneurship within the context of social welfare and legality through the implementation of the “Generations 2.0 – Shake Yourself (2020)” (Generaciones 2.0 – Sacúdete) and “Generation Explores” Programmes in the municipalities affected by production and distribution activities (Valle del Cauca and Cauca)
IX.Freedom of movement
69.Where freedom of movement is concerned, the Comprehensive Victim Support and Reparation Unit used updated statistical data broken down by victimizing event, age, ethnic affiliation, humanitarian aid, and humanitarian support and assistance to compile the tables in annex 11.
70.The Comprehensive Victim Support and Reparation Unit also reported on the following:
Return, relocation and local integration procedures supported by the Unit: support has been provided to 10,782 households, of which 486 were integrated locally, 2,104 were returned and 8,192 were relocated
Support provided to ensure the sustainability of return and relocation measures: 23,931 transfers have been made, corresponding to a total disbursement of $12,910,218,000
New and updated return, relocation and local integration plans, approved by the local transitional justice committees:
472 return and relocation plans have been updated within the framework of the local transitional justice committees
101 new return and relocation plans have been approved within the framework of the local transitional justice committees
Return, relocation and local integration procedures supported by the Unit (see annex 12)
Individual compensation, broken down by victimizing event (see annex 13)
Compensation, broken down by ethnic affiliation. (see annex 14)
Compensation, broken down by age (see annex 15)
Support provided by the Comprehensive Victim Support and Reparation Unit in return, relocation and local reintegration processes, broken down by department (see annex 16)
71.According to the Attorney General’s Office, as at 1 December 2022, 12,464 cases of forced displacement, involving 17,169 victims, were at the investigation phase while 47,531 cases, involving 71,318 victims, were being processed before the justice and peace courts.
72.Between November 2021 and December 2022, prosecutors attached to the Directorate for Transitional Justice brought charges in connection with 6,836 acts, which had implications for illegal groups such as Bloque Norte, Bloque Metro, Casa Castaño, Bloque Bananero and Bloque Sur Oeste Antioqueño.
73.With regard to the offence of kidnapping, as at 1 December 2022, 1,060 cases, involving 1,380 victims, were at the investigation phase and 3,233 cases, involving 3,735 victims, were before the justice and peace courts.
74.Between November 2021 and December 2022, prosecutors attached to the Directorate for Transitional Justice brought charges in connection with 678 acts, which had implications for illegal groups such as Bloque Metro, Bloque Norte, Bloque Sur Oeste Antioqueño, Bloque Mineros and Bloque Sur de Bolívar.
X.Right to privacy
75.With regard to the steps taken to guarantee the adequate protection of personal information and the regulation of the use of the technology, databases and biometric systems set up by the National Civil Registry Office, the Registry is developing and managing an automated multibiometric identification system (ABIS) that it uses to process the civil identification data of Colombian citizens.
76.The information held in the databases developed and administered by the Registry is legally confidential, as provided for by article 213 of the Electoral Code, and is related to matters of defence and national security, as stated by the Third Chamber of the Council of State.
77.In order to ensure compliance with the rules of habeas data while meeting the legal obligation to provide information on the identities of Colombian citizens to public agencies, State officials, State security agencies and the judiciary, the Registry issued decision No. 5633 of 29 June 2016, which governs the conditions and procedure for using interoperability mechanisms to obtain access to information in the databases developed and managed by the Registry and requires compliance with high international standards of information security.
78.The agreements and conventions entered into with the different agencies set out the requirements established to ensure the proper processing of data, in compliance with Act No. 1581 of 2012, using technological tools that guarantee information security and the non-replication of data and are designed to protect confidentiality.
XI.Freedom of thought and conscience
Prevention of recruitment
79.Annex 17 contains information on the preventive measures undertaken by the Directorate of Protection and Special Services of the National Police in 2021 and 2022 within the framework of the National Policy for Preventing the Recruitment and Exploitation of, and Sexual Violence against, Children and Adolescents by Illegal Armed Groups and Organized Criminal Groups.
80.The Directorate for Recruitment of the National Police stated that, in compliance with article 15 (d) of Act No. 1861 of 2017 on mandatory military service, such service may be provided by assistant police officers in the National Police. The Directorate for Recruitment issues calls for assistant police officers at the national level in order to attract the attention of young persons required to verify their military status. Such persons voluntarily visit the recruitment units, where they formally respond to the call by filling out a form for the voluntary provision of military service. However, citizens can file an application for recognition as a conscientious objector with the interdisciplinary commission established for this purpose.
XII.Freedom of expression
81.With regard to the steps taken to prevent obstruction of the right to freedom of expression and information, the National Police highlighted the following capacity-building measures:
An online course entitled “Freedom of the press and policing in Ibero-America” (2021) has been updated in coordination with the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance and the Foundation for Press Freedom with a view to strengthening and updating staff knowledge of fundamental principles and rights, such as freedom of thought and opinion. A total of 4,200 officials completed the course between 2020 and 2022.
Guidelines on strengthening relations between members of the National Police and journalists and media outlets have been developed to serve as a practical guide for improving working relations between the police and media outlets and journalists.
82.In 2022, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Human Rights and International Affairs continued to implement the National Policy for the Prevention of the Recruitment, Use and Sexual Abuse of Children and Adolescents, as well as the mandate set out in Decrees No. 1784 and No. 2081 of 2019, which entrust the Office with the role of technical secretariat of the intersectoral commission for preventing the recruitment and exploitation of, and sexual violence against, children and adolescents by illegal armed groups and organized criminal groups.
83.The mission of this commission is to coordinate, promote and follow up on measures carried out in collaboration with national and local public bodies, international cooperation agencies and national and international social organizations with a view to preventing the recruitment and exploitation of, and sexual violence against, children and adolescents by illegal armed groups and organized criminal groups.
84.In 2022, 263 technical assistance activities were carried out in 75 municipalities, community-level initiatives were carried out in 23 municipalities and a psychosocial strategy was implemented for the benefit of 6,050 people. In addition, a probabilistic tool known as the recruitment probability index was updated with information on 294 municipalities in the country where the risk of recruitment is high so that the State could focus its efforts to reduce the factors underlying the problem on these municipalities.
85.In 2022, the Colombian Family Welfare Institute had a presence in 219 municipalities in the country where children were at risk of being recruited and exploited. It provided support to 79,273 children in these prioritized areas at a cost of $44,661,439,700.
86.Once certain geographical areas had been prioritized, the Colombian Family Welfare Institute implemented a programme that used experiential encounters as a means of strengthening children’s capacities and ability to recognize and exercise their rights, participate and express themselves freely, identify risk situations, build their life projects and resolve conflicts in a peaceful and assertive manner. The campaign also strengthens families’ abilities to foster, through knowledge-sharing, reflection on relationships based on care, affection and the creation of opportunities for comprehensive development.
87.In 2022, 45 technical support forums were organized that were attended by 3,058 people from 70 institutions in 110 municipalities around the country.
88.In 2021 and 2022, the Colombian Family Welfare Institute oversaw a support initiative aimed at preventing adolescents and young people between the ages of 14 and 28 years from being recruited and exploited. This initiative provided assistance to more than 5,000 adolescents and young people, giving them differential, flexible and specialized support in promoting and recognizing their rights. This support strengthened their ability to look after themselves, protect themselves and identify relevant tools, emphasizing the roles played by the beneficiaries themselves, their families and communities, and local institutions.
Measures to prevent the stigmatization of child victims of forced recruitment
89.Steps are being taken to prevent the stigmatization of child victims of forced recruitment. In this connection, the Colombian Family Welfare Institute stated that the process of supporting children and adolescents who have left illegal armed groups and joined the special programme for the restoration of rights and support for comprehensive reparation includes measures to ensure that, with support from the State, they can enjoy their rights and develop their life projects in civilian society and their personal resources. To this end, children and adolescents are integrated in educational, recreational, cultural, artistic and pre-employment spaces with their peers, where they seek recognition and participate as subjects of rights. It is essential to break down preconceived ideas about these children in order to promote opportunities for dialogue, experience-sharing and new relationships that allow barriers to be overcome.
90.Annex 17 contains statistical data on children and adolescents who have left illegal armed groups and entered the specialized care programme established for them.
Child and adolescent victims of crimes in the context of the armed conflict
91.The Colombian Family Welfare Institute determines the extent to which children’s rights have been upheld. If it identifies threats to, or violations of, a child’s rights in situations where nothing has evidently been done to restore these rights, or if it determines that a child has been affected by a victimizing event that occurred as part of the armed conflict, it will initiate the administrative procedure for the restoration of rights. In all cases, the competent administrative authority must ensure that the child concerned testifies to being a victim of the armed conflict before the Public Legal Service for each victimizing event, if applicable, so that an assessment of whether to include him or her in the Central Register of Victims may be conducted. Subsequently, one of the following measures may be taken:
(a)The administrative procedure for the restoration of rights is initiated when the administrative authority, after carrying out the relevant checks, finds that there is evidence of a threat or actual violation of a given right, whether due to a victimizing event that occurred as part of the armed conflict or some other situation that affects a child’s rights;
(b)Assistance with the process of applying for comprehensive reparation without the administrative procedure for the restoration of rights is provided if, on the basis of the checks carried out, the administrative authority reasonably determines that a child’s rights are not currently being threatened or violated, or that violations caused by a victimizing event have been resolved and there are family members capable of safeguarding his or her rights.
92.Information obtained from the mission information system of the Colombian Family Welfare Institute was used to compile the national report on child and adolescent victims of the armed conflict who underwent the administrative procedure for the restoration of rights from 2020 (November to December) to 2022 (January to October). The report is contained in annex 18.
93.Note: In order to comply with the word limit, additional information provided by the Attorney General’s Office has been included in the annexes.