MAPP – OAS calls for strengthening electoral and security guarantees for citizen participation in Colombia

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WASHINGTON, USA – The mission to support the peace process in Colombia of the Organization of American States (MAPP/OAS) delivered to the OAS Permanent Council its thirty-first semi-annual report, corresponding to the first semester of 2021, in which the mission reports on the main findings and recommendations resulting from the monitoring and territorial accompaniment carried out in 684 population centers strongly affected by violence and where peace initiatives are advancing.

In the document, the MAPP/OAS draws special attention to a central issue for the construction of peace and the future of the country: citizen participation. As a result of territorial monitoring, the mission observed threats to the participation of community action organizations, ethnic-territorial authorities and social groups. Likewise, it welcomes the reactivation of the 16 Temporary Special Districts for Peace but warned that this democratic exercise that involves the victims of the armed conflict faces decisive challenges such as electoral and security guarantees in the rural areas where they will take place. For this reason, it calls on the Colombian State to reinforce them urgently.

Between the end of April and June 2021, the MAPP/OAS monitored the peaceful social mobilization of Colombian citizens in the framework of the national strike. During those days, the mission found evidence of and condemned serious acts of violence such as attacks against civilians and police officers, excessive use of force by members of the National Police against demonstrators, vandalism, blockades on main roads and reports of infiltrations by illegal armed groups. The mission reiterates its call to the State and society to always guarantee peaceful social protest, privilege channels of dialogue, strengthen participation mechanisms, and punish those responsible for acts of violence.

Between January and June 2021, the MAPP/OAS identified an increase in illicit crops, forced recruitment of children and adolescents, and gender-based violence in some areas of the country. Likewise, disputes over the control of territories and illegal economies by the ELN guerrillas and the FARC dissidents produced serious and worrying violations against the civilian population in departments such as Arauca, Cauca, Norte de Santander, Chocó, Putumayo. and Nariño. These disputes currently constitute a critical situation in Arauca, Cauca, Catatumbo and Chocó. Faced with this scenario, the mission recognizes the efforts made by the Colombian State through various policies and strategies and calls on it to deepen and broaden them from a comprehensive perspective, considering the current electoral context.

Finally, the OAS Mission values the issuance of the temporary protection statute for Venezuelan Migrants as an exemplary and supportive measure that contributes to the care, protection and integration of the Venezuelan population in the midst of an unprecedented migration crisis and the serious effects suffered by the foreign population as a result of the control of illegal armed groups on the borders with Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama.

Upon completing 18 years of regular and ongoing territorial monitoring and accompaniment, the Mission reiterates its commitment to continue supporting the Colombian people with its independent and close approach, in favour of the construction of the long-awaited complete peace, within the framework of democracy and the rule of law.

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