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Deadly protests end with reports of human rights violations in Colombia

Families wait for justice after deadly protests in Colombia
Families wait for justice after deadly protests in Colombia

CALI, Colombia – Laura Guerrero’s 26-year-old son Nicolas Guerrero died during protests against Colombian President Iván Duque’s tax reform proposal.

The grieving mother frequents a small police station in Cali that protesters seized and turned into a community library that is named after her son.

It’s full of art and books — what Nicolas loved most.

“They put a bullet in the left side of his head,” she said in Spanish.

The anti-government protests that started on April 18 in Colombia have ended and have been replaced by somber vigils and demands for justice.

Student protesters and indigenous people reported police brutality and gender-based violence. The reports include arbitrary detentions, rapes, and disappearances.

A team of investigators from the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is investigating the alleged crimes against protesters.

According to the Ombudsman’s Office of Colombia, there were more than 500 alleged human rights violations that were related to the protests from April 28 to June 3.

Temblores, a nongovernmental organization that stands for human rights in Colombia, reported there were more than 3,700 incidents of police brutality including about two dozen protesters who were victims of sexual abuse at the hands of police officers.

The Washington Post’s visual forensics experts concluded the bullet that killed Nicolas Guerrero came from police lines in Cali.

Carlos Javier Soler, Cali’s new security secretary, said lethal weapons can only be used as a last resort for self-defense.

Duque responded to the reports with a proposal for police reform. Human rights activists say that even if the legislation passes it won’t apply to the national riot police, which operates under the department of defense’s military tribunals.


About the Authors:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.