Colombia will soon be under review at the Human Rights Council (HRC) for its Universal Periodic Review (UPR), to be held on April 23.

However, before this peer review by States, UPR-Info organised a pre-session during which civil society organisations and national human rights institutions are given the floor. In this way, UPR-Info facilitates civil society to share our assessment of the human rights situation in a country since the previous review and the progress accomplished by the State under review to implement the recommendations.

WILPF was there not only to monitor this pre-session on Colombia, but also to suggest recommendations to the State delegations that were present at this session. During the UPR, only States can make official recommendations, but NGOs are the ones providing them with ideas of possible recommendations and pushing them to make the right ones. Hopefully, States will share our concerns in the course of Colombia’s review later this month.

These are the main recommendations provided by civil society during this pre-session. See below to download WILPF’s official recommendations.

Condemning and ending land grabbing and forced displacements

After Sudan, Colombia has the largest number of internally displaced people in the world. This is mainly due to the phenomenon of land grabbing, i.e. large-scale land acquisitions in developing countries, mainly by domestic and transnational companies and governments.

In Colombia, this phenomenon, which is mainly taking place in regions rich in mineral resources, remains widely unpunished. If land-grabbers acknowledge the appropriation or falsification of title deeds, the principle of opportunity a crime will be punished only if its prosecution is considered opportune is applied, and they can thus remain unpunished.

Though a law on restitution of land has been passed, Colectivo de abogados remains concerned about the lack of training of officials who implement this law. It is worrying to see that the implementation of this law remains totally dependent on the will of the government: they are the ones who ultimately make the decision on land restitution to the original owners. This law has been in place for almost two years now and the results are still far from satisfactory.

Respecting freedom of conscientious objection to military service

To date, young men have to either do their military service or pay compensation. After they have completed their service, they receive an official document that is required to enter universities and even to find a job.

Even those who refused to do their military service are required to present such a document, which is contrary to their freedom of conscience. Therefore, many are discriminated against and are denied access to education and work.

Photo of a Colombian soldier handling a rifleACOOC expressed great concern about the “military hunting”: those who refused to take part in military service can be arbitrarily detained for an extended period of time and forced to subscribe and comply with their military obligation.

Therefore, Colombia should recognise the right of conscientious objection to military service in its legislation and guarantee that conscientious objectors are able to opt for alternative service without being arbitrarily detained.

As asserted by the Colombian Commission of Jurists, most of the previous recommendations made at the last UPR of Colombia are still relevant to date and can be reiterated at the upcoming UPR session.

WILPF’s recommendations

In addition to all these recommendations made by our colleagues from civil society, WILPF stressed the lack of women’s involvement in the peace process.

Indeed, despite the UN Security Council resolution 1325 calling for the adoption of a gender perspective in post-conflict reconstruction, no women have been engaged in the main team of the peace negotiations so far.

Colombia has not yet developed its National Action Plan (NAP) to implement the resolution 1325 at domestic level, while such a plan would be an essential tool for the recognition of women as main contributors to peacebuilding, especially in the current context of the peace negotiation between the government and FARCs.

The NAP 1325 would also contribute to the monitoring and accountability of the government in implementing this resolution, which will provide clear steps towards justice and reparation for women victims of different forms of violence, gender-based violence and forced internal displacement during the 60-year armed conflict.

For more details, download WILPF’s recommendations to Colombia in English and in Spanish.

Interested in the situation of human rights in Colombia? Then, check out our two previous articles on Colombia!