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Third Committee

(New York, October 26, 2009)

Statement by Ambassador Claudia Blum, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations, Item 69 (b): Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

 

Mr. Chairman,

Colombia has continued to strengthen its legislative frameworks and policies for the protection and enjoyment of civil, political, economic, cultural and social rights, through the committed work of the democratic institutions, the broad participation of civil society and support from international cooperation.

The achievements of the National Development Plan have allowed for significant progress in economic, social and cultural rights. The strengthening of the rule of law, the reduction of violence through the Democratic Security Policy, and the demobilization of more than 52 thousand members of illegal armed groups, have had positive impact in the fields of justice, peace and reparation to victims of violence. They have also been essential for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Several institutions and specific strategies have also been crucial to these achievements. I would mention among them: the Presidential Program for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law lead by the Vice-President; the implementation of the accusatory system of criminal justice and the strengthening of specialized capacities in human rights of the General Attorney's Office and other entities of the Judiciary; the comprehensive policy on human rights and IHL being implemented in the Ministry of Defense; the clear division of roles that ensures that the cases of human rights violations are subject to the jurisdiction of ordinary courts; the work of the Ombudsman's office as an independent monitoring entity; and the progress of the National Plan on Human Rights Education.

Moreover, the Government has acted immediately and rigorously to respond to possible human rights violations attributable to any State agent. The strict administrative measures adopted and the ongoing judicial proceedings related to the condemnable events configuring possible cases of murder of protected persons, acknowledged in 2008 by the national and international community, are an example of this commitment.

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation reaffirms the absolute commitment of the Government of Colombia to the protection and guarantees for the work of social organizations engaged in defending human rights. As the President and the Vice President of the Republic have reiterated, Colombia considers that the activities of human rights defenders are a necessary condition for strengthening democracy, promoting and ensuring human rights and the realization of the Social Rule of Law.

The Government reiterates its deep concern over the attacks against human rights organizations, caused mainly by the violence of illegal armed groups.

The State will continue to strengthen the policies and legal framework for the protection of human rights defenders. A recent development in this area is Law 1309 adopted last June, which enhances the sanctions regime for crimes against union leaders. The increase in the budget for the protection program of the Ministry of Interior and Justice, which went from $13.6 million in 2002 to $47 million in 2009, is another concrete step forward. Also, I emphasize the establishment of the National Bureau of Guarantees for the work of defenders, established last April and the 14 Regional Bureaus provided in this area. These mechanisms provide opportunities for dialogue between government, human rights organizations and social and community leaders, accompanied by United Nations and some governments, and will strengthen the guarantees for the work of defenders.

Mr. Chairman,

Colombia gives special importance to international cooperation in the field of human rights. In 2008 we had 364 cooperation projects, implemented in the 32 departments of the country. Some of them were focused on the most vulnerable areas.

The Government has maintained a policy of openness to cooperation and international oversight. Since 1997, we have an Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The support of this Office has contributed to the adoption of more effective policies and measures to address human rights challenges, including those related to the violence generated by illegal armed groups. A participatory mechanism to follow-up the recommendations of this Office has been established, involving civil society and representatives of 39 diplomatic missions accredited in the country.

There are also bilateral mechanisms for dialogue on human rights with the European Union, Canada and Spain, which promote the exchange of information in order to identify areas of cooperation.

In December 2008, Colombia submitted itself voluntarily to the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council. We have developed a methodology for monitoring the implementation of commitments made therein. The first progress report was published on 10 June.

As part of the commitments made in that Review, in 2009 the Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; on the situation of human rights of indigenous peoples, and on the situation of human rights defenders, visited the country at the invitation of the Government. The Special Rapporteur on independence of judges and lawyers will soon visit the country. From the review of national progress and challenges, it is expected that the recommendations of the Rapporteurs contribute constructively to strengthen relevant national policies.

Based on the national experience, Colombia reaffirms its support for the United Nations work related to international cooperation for the promotion of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. My delegation will continue to support all initiatives that fall within that fundamental purpose of the United Nations.

Thank you.

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