June 13, 2022

As an articulation of organizations defending human rights in Cauca, we reject the actions of abuse committed by the security forces against the community of the village of La Viuda, municipality of Cajibío, on June 12, 2022, where the integrity and lives of civilians, including vulnerable populations such as women and children, were put at risk. The following is a description of the events that occurred:

At 1:50pm, one (1) truck of the Mobile Anti-riot Squadron (ESMAD), four (4) armored and polarized vans without identification and six (6) motorcycles of the national army violently burst onto the road leading to the communal hut.

Campesinos/as who were on the road and the veredal soccer field were verbally assaulted and intimidated with psychological violence.

Around 3:15 pm. At the indicated site two (2) vans with armed personnel fired shots into the air and other shots directly at the surrounding houses, once the shots were heard the police activated a tear gas grenade to protect the exit of the van from where the shots were fired.

ESMAD agents who were at the La Margarita bus stop physically attack a farmer from the sector, pushing him onto the Panamerican Highway and causing injuries to his hands and body.

Upon suffering this attack, the community action board and the community of La Viuda proceeded to identify the vehicles and the persons who fired the shots. During the search of the vans, two (2) 9 mm traumatic weapons and two shell casings were found and Mr. Juan Vélez was identified as the person allegedly responsible for the shooting.

The acts committed by the Public Force in this action are a clear violation of human rights, by attacking unarmed and defenseless civilian population, in addition to covering up armed civilian personnel who fired the shots, unidentified, in the vans that accompanied the action. It is necessary to restructure the focus of police intervention actions, as it is common to seek direct and unidentified violent aggression. It is common to seek direct violent aggression and not to carry out actions to build coexistence and public order.

We Request:

The Prosecutor’s Office should investigate the person who fired the shots, putting the civilian population of La Viuda at risk, establish responsibilities, and issue social and criminal convictions.

The Attorney General’s Office and the Comptroller General’s Office require the commander of the operation involved to explain the presence and actions of armed civilians in this type of operation and to apply disciplinary and criminal sanctions as appropriate.

The Ombudsman’s Office to follow up and accompany the operation to ensure that human rights are respected.

Social organizations and human rights defenders to accompany and show solidarity with the communities.

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