Bogotá, June 17, 2022.-On June 19 in Colombia, the second round of elections will take place to elect the future President of the country. The election will take place amid a climate of high political polarization, social tensions, concerns about the lack of security guarantees for the elections, and several complaints about possible electoral fraud. This, added to a context of great expectations on the part of the citizenry, since both candidates represent a possible change to the traditional politics that have been governing the country for more than two decades. To this must be added the widespread discontent with the current government, in the face of a high number of unsatisfied social demands. In this regard, the International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) expresses its concern and shares its reflections on the development of the next election day and the implications for the country in terms of institutional stability and the human rights agenda during the elections. Just as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has urged, from Race and Equality we call for the peaceful and democratic nature of election day, to guarantee the rights to freedom, integrity, and political rights, among others.
Possible electoral fraud
The year 2022 has been an electoral year in Colombia. It began with the legislative elections and will end with the second round of presidential elections. After the last votes for the Congress of the Republic and presidential consultations carried out on March 16, the alarms of electoral fraud began to go off after serious logistical problems were reported, reports of irregularities in the selection of juries, poor design of the E-14 forms, the fall of computer platforms, and a difference of 21 percent (more than one million votes) between the pre-count and the scrutiny by the National Registry (RNEC).
Since then, multiple complaints and alerts about possible actions of electoral fraud have been registered. The Transparency for Colombia Corporation has indicated that the different electoral days this year have generated “well-founded doubts about the organization and confidence of the electoral process.” For its part, the Democracy at Risk alliance has warned about obstacles that could affect transparency and public confidence in the electoral process, related to the lack of an electoral census, problems with the counting software, the lack of digital security, the dispersion in training for voting jurors, violence in rural areas of the country, and vote buying.
Since February 2022, the Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) has warned about the risks associated with election days, both in terms of armed violence and electoral fraud. In this sense, the EOM indicated that in 131 municipalities of the country, risks of violence and electoral fraud converge. In this regard, “49 are at extreme risk, 65 at high risk and 17 at medium risk.”
Despite the different alerts of electoral fraud and the context of public distrust of the 2022 elections, the State has not provided a concrete response in response to these concerns, nor has it adopted any structural measures to guarantee transparency in the second round of the presidential elections. On the contrary, the National Registrar has indicated that “no electoral fraud is possible” in Colombia, ignoring the reports and alerts presented by various organizations.
This risk of electoral fraud generates latent implications in the human rights agenda. In particular, the Colombian State should provide guarantees for an adequate and efficient response to actions that constitute fraud during election day, that the necessary measures be adopted to guarantee investigations with due diligence and independence, seeking respect for and guarantee of human rights. Likewise, as the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has indicated in its jurisprudence, the measures adopted must also protect citizens against possible reprisals or situations of violence.
Added to this context of questions and complaints of possible fraud is the lack of access to information, which is exacerbated by the high circulation of fake news during electoral campaigns.
The objective of fake news is to misinform the public, through the publication of information that deviates from the proposals contained in the Government Plans, the only binding documents that provide detailed and precise information on the proposals of the candidates for the presidency. In this regard, pages such as Colombia Check have been responsible for systematically collecting false information, in order to verify and truthfully communicate the information.
Given this context, Race and Equality expresses its concern over the repeated alerts presented by civil society and monitoring institutions in the face of a possible scenario of fraud and urges the National Registry of Colombia to carry out its surveillance and monitoring tasks in a timely, clear, and transparent manner in this second round of presidential elections. In particular, Race and Equality makes a call to guarantee the political rights of citizens and to generate an environment of trust, transparency and guarantee of human rights within the framework of election day.
In the same way, we call on the international community and international observation missions to provide technical assistance and the necessary support to carry out an effective and independent follow-up of the elections on June 19 and the Colombian Government to eliminate the barriers that prevent an exercise of effective oversight by them.
To the same extent, we urge the Colombian Government to provide the maximum guarantees for the political participation of the entire population, with special attention to the people who live in the areas with the highest rates of violence and those who live in the areas furthest from the urban centers.
Finally, Race and Equality invites all citizens to exercise their right to vote in an informed and timely manner and to integrate a perspective of respect for human rights in the analysis of the government programs of the presidential candidates. Given the context of violence and inequality that plagues Colombia, we invite you to support a program that proposes a real transformation of the structural causes of exclusion and poverty, with a view to the joint construction of a country in peace and with social justice.
 Naciones Unidas. Bachelet pide resolver las circunstancias que provocan las crisis, el hambre y la pobreza. 13 de junio de 2022.
 Transparencia por Colombia. Denuncias y alertas de fraude electoral requieren una acción pronta y rigurosa de las autoridades. 18 de marzo de 2022.
 Democracia en Riesgo. Alterada la confianza en el manejo del proceso electoral. 1 de marzo de 2022.
 Misión de Observación Electoral – MOE. 131 municipios de Colombia presentan los mayores riesgos para las elecciones de 2022: MOE. 9 de febrero de 2022.
 El Colombiano. “En Colombia no es posible ningún fraude electoral”: Registrador. 6 de junio de 2022.