Swiss torture expert slams Colombia police violence 

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The United Nations special rapporteur against torture, Nils Melzer from Zurich, has condemned the "violent repression" of demonstrations in Colombia that has killed dozens of people. Speaking in Geneva on Friday, he called for an independent investigation. 

This content was published on May 14, 2021 - 16:50

"We are very concerned about the excessive and unlawful use of force by police and riot police units," Melzer said in a joint statement with 15 other experts. 

Police in the South American country have violently cracked down on peaceful demonstrators who have been protesting for a fortnight against a tax reform sought by President Ivan Duque and later withdrawn. 

While official figures speak of more than 40 people killed and more than 1,500 injured, the experts have counted at least 26 deaths and more than 1,800 cases of police violence. There were also reports of 216 injured, including police officers, as well as 160 disappearances, more than 960 alleged arbitrary detentions, at least 12 cases of sexual violence and allegations of torture. 

Independent experts, who do not speak on behalf of the United Nations, say they are concerned about the Colombian government's decision to deploy the army in response to the protests. They call on the government to guarantee fundamental freedoms. 

They stressed that any use of force should be proportionate. Prompt and independent investigations must be carried out and those responsible for human rights violations must be prosecuted, the experts urged. 

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