Colombia: Concern over the territorial expansion of armed groups and their violent strategies of social control. UN High Commissioner.  

Colombia: Concern over the territorial expansion of armed groups and their violent strategies of social control. UN High Commissioner.  

Colombia, August 22, 2023.- The Colombian Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights presented its analysis of Colombia’s human rights situation, in which it recognized the current Government’s approach to human rights, its willingness to address important issues, and its commitment to the protection of human rights, which has resulted in significant and positive changes. However, the Representative in Colombia of the United Nations High Commissioner Juliette De Rivero, highlighted the concerns and challenges that the Office has observed in the country and that require immediate attention.1 In particular, she expressed concern about the territorial expansion of armed groups and their violent strategies of social control over the civilian population and grassroots organizations, despite dialogue processes offered.  


Increase in massacres in the country    

During the first half of 2023, the United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR) recorded an 11% increase in the number of verified massacres compared to the same quarter of the previous year. A total of 52 massacres were verified during this period. Most of the massacres were allegedly perpetrated by non-state armed groups and criminal organizations. The most affected departments were Atlántico, Antioquia, Cauca, La Guajira, Magdalena, Meta, Norte de Santander, Putumayo and Valle del Cauca. For its part, the Institute for Development and Peace Studies, INDEPAZ, has registered a total of 59 massacres in the country to date.2  


Violence against social leaders continues to be of concern.  

In the first half of 2023, the OHCHR reported a 19% reduction in cases of homicides of human rights defenders compared to the previous half (July-December 2022). While this decrease is encouraging, the number of killings of human rights defenders in Colombia remains unacceptably high. In total, 46 cases of homicide have been recorded, of which 39 were men and 7 women. Among them, 11 were indigenous, 9 were Afro-descendants, and 15 were campesinos. In addition, 35% of the human rights defenders killed were members of Community Action Boards. To date, INDEPAZ has registered 105 massacres or killings during 2023 in the country. 

In terms of displacement, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has reported a 33% decrease in cases of displacement compared to the previous six-month period and a 2% increase in cases of confinement during the same period. In addition, the UN Verification Mission has verified two fewer cases of killings of ex-combatants during this period.  


Sexual violence and human trafficking   

During the first half of 2023, the Office has received a total of 42 complaints of sexual and gender-based violence in the context of armed conflict, of which 27 have been confirmed. These complaints have been registered in the departments of Antioquia, Arauca, Chocó, Nariño, and Norte de Santander. Of particular concern is the situation of trafficking of girls and adolescents for sexual exploitation by non-state armed groups, as well as the rape of women and girls. These differentiated situations demonstrate the need to adopt effective and specific measures to guarantee the protection and effective participation of women, girls and LGBTI+ persons in all spaces of dialogue and decision-making for the comprehensive construction of peace. 

Race and Equality calls on the government of Colombia to take into account the report presented by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which points out the existence of human rights violations that require immediate measures to protect the lives and rights of citizens in its national territory, especially in areas of the country that continue to be affected by the armed conflict and illegal armed groups. Regarding the protection of ethnic communities at risk, it is crucial that the State take effective measures to guarantee the full exercise of their individual and collective rights, especially due to the impact of the armed conflict and violence. The national government must work to repair and protect the rights of these communities, who are entitled to special protection according to international standards. 

We also urge the State to carry out a Comprehensive Reform of the National Police with the genuine and effective participation of civil society, especially the victims of racist police violence. Additionally the state should adopt, abide by, and effectively implement international standards against racism and discrimination, such as the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Intolerance (CIRDI), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the standards that have been developed to prevent the disproportionate use of force against people of African descent by security forces. 

Transcendent Voices: Art and Culture as Forms of Resistance and Pride

Washington D.C., June 28, 2023 – On International LGBTI+ Pride Day, the International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) wishes to dedicate this article to recognize, celebrate, and highlight the presence of LGBTI+ persons in the region in the field of art and culture, which have always been forms of resistance, survival, and pride for LGBTI+ persons. Their disruptive forms of artistic expression have revolutionized this sector, not only enriching it but also challenging and transforming the dominant narratives of cisheteronormativity.

From a human rights perspective, the A/HRC/14/36 report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights states that cultural rights are essential for the recognition and respect of human dignity in many aspects. Through these rights, the development and expression of diverse worldviews – both individual and collective – are protected, encompassing important freedoms related to issues of identity.[1]

In this sense, the representation and dignified visibility of historically marginalized groups, such as the LGBTI+ population, are crucial to reclaim their bodies and identities and promote their human rights. “Combat stigma and discrimination. Positive representation in culture contributes to challenging the negative stereotypes and prejudices surrounding sexual and gender diversity,” mentions Alex Aguirre, Human Rights Researcher at the Institute for Peace and Development (Ipades) in Nicaragua, who points out that this also applies to oneself when characters and narratives reflect personal experiences that contribute to developing greater confidence and accepting one’s gender identity or sexual orientation without shame or guilt.

“Diverse artistic expression makes things visible, exposes, portrays, and enriches. Being able to enjoy art created by sexual and gender diverse individuals provides a different perspective to the audience, humanizing and making their expressions their own,” says Fhran Medina, lawyer and LGBTI+ rights activist from Fraternidad Trans Masculina Perú.

From the perspective of the meaning of art and culture, Guillermo Valdizán states in his book Creación Heroica that “forms of cultural production are intimately linked to processes of social transformation.”[2] In other words, cultural production does not exist outside of a specific social, political, and economic context and has been present throughout the history of societies; therefore, it is part of the social process and not just a tool. As Sol Ámbar Sánchez Latorre, Advocacy Director at the GAAT Foundation in Colombia, says, there is an appropriation of the more visible cultural sphere by LGBTI+ persons, which produces new representations and reflections on sexuality and gender, fostering cultural transformations.

Next, Race and Equality’s counterparts recommend some notable examples of cultural productions that have contributed to the visibility of LGBTI+ people:

Yunior Pino, Cuban photographer and activist: “We are courageous individuals endowed with talents and gifts; we educate to eradicate the taboos that have caused a lot of harm and discrimination for generations. I recommend the Cuban film titled Fátima because it portrays the harsh reality experienced by the majority of the LGBTI+ community in Cuba, facing a macho and discriminatory society and a system that forces family separation and prostitution.”

Sol Ámbar Sánchez Latorre, Advocacy Director at the GAAT Foundation in Colombia: “I would like the work of Kia sonorica, a Paraguayan trans artist, to be more widely known. She is also an anti-colonial historian and has a deep understanding of art history; and now she is one of the pioneering Latin American artists using artificial intelligence to create artistic works.”

Fhran Medina, Peruvian lawyer and activist: “Antay is my favorite Peruvian singer-songwriter, not only because he is a great singer, but also because of the work and immense heart he puts into each song and performance. His lyrics are filled with tenderness and artistry. As a trans singer-songwriter, he carries many stories and experiences of the trans population. The music video for the song “Júrame” is something that everyone should watch, and you can find more of his productions on Spotify and YouTube.”

Articulación Brasileña de Lésbicas – Rede ABL: “We recommend the work of Bia Ferreira in music because she is a black woman and ‘sapatão’* who brings true ‘gospels’ of liberation in her songs. It is important for other people to know her work because she explains the cause and solutions to various social issues in a didactic way.”

Alex Aguirre, Human Rights Researcher at the Institute for Peace and Development (Ipades) in Nicaragua: “I recommend the artist Ru Paul, an iconic Drag Queen and host of the show RuPaul’s Drag Race. Ru Paul has been an important figure in LGBTI+ culture and has promoted acceptance and celebration of diversity.”

In conclusion, the visibility of LGBTI+ persons in the field of art and culture is a powerful indicator of progress in human rights. Through cinema, music, dance, theater, visual art, and more, a space has been conquered where these transcendent voices can be heard, and their experiences can be authentically represented. Race and Equality reaffirms its commitment to promoting the visibility and representation of LGBTI+ individuals in all areas of life and wishes them a Pride Month filled with music, art, and culture. All people deserve to live in a society free of violence, more just, and without discrimination. Human rights always!

*’Sapatão’ is a word of pride that refers to lesbian women in Brazil. It is similar to how the trans movement has embraced the word ‘travesti’.



[1] Report of the independent expert in the field of cultural rights, Ms. Farida Shaheed, submitted pursuant to resolution 10/23 of the Human Rights Council. Available at

[2] Valdizán, Guillermo (2021). Creación Heroica: Neoliberalismo, políticas culturales y estrategia comunitaria en el Perú del siglo XXI. Lima: RGC Ediciones

Inter-American Forum against Discrimination celebrated the 10th anniversary of CIRDI and CIDI within the framework of the OAS General Assembly

Washington D.C., June 20, 2023 – The Inter-American Forum against Discrimination, an annual event organized by the International Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights (Race and Equality), took place during the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS). It brought together representatives from the governments of the United States and Brazil, as well as experts and Afro-descendant, indigenous, and LGBTI+ leaders from the region, for an effective dialogue on racial discrimination in the Americas.

This year, the Forum’s theme was the “Tenth Anniversary of the Adoption of the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI) and the Inter-American Convention against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance (CIDI),” which was held at the iconic National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington D.C.

Carlos Quesada, Executive Director of Race and Equality, highlighted in his welcome speech that the CIRDI is a Convention that broadly addresses racial discrimination, serving not only Afro-descendant peoples but also indigenous peoples and Romani communities.

The first panel, “The Historical Debt: State Responsibility towards the CIRDI and the CIDI,” featured the participation of Joy-Dee Davis Lake, Counselor Minister of the OAS Embassy and Permanent Mission of Antigua and Barbuda. In her remarks, the Minister emphasized the importance of building a better world for diversity, free from discrimination, where every individual can fulfill their full potential. This panel also included Luz Elena Baños Rivas, Ambassador of the OAS Permanent Mission in Mexico, who could not attend in person but sent her message calling for commitment and strengthening of the CIRDI to OAS Member States.

Moderated by Carlos Quesada, the second panel, “International Efforts to Combat Racial and Ethnic Discrimination,” featured the contributions of Margarette May Macaulay, President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH); Desirée Cormier-Smith, Special Representative for Racial Equity and Justice (SRREJ) of the U.S. Department of State, and Symmy Larrat, National Secretary for LGBTQIA+ Rights of the Ministry of Human Rights and Citizenship of Brazil.

“It is necessary to pay attention to racial representation in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) and in the United Nations Secretariat. Additionally, I call on government ministers and political parties to reflect on their resistance and inaction regarding the approval of the CIRDI by OAS Member States,” stated Margarette May Macaulay.

“We must commit to keeping the window of racial and social justice open. It is our responsibility to prevent this window from closing,” emphasized Desirée Cormier-Smith, urging all Afro-descendant individuals to empower themselves and influence their governments to build an antiracist democracy.

In her speech, Symmy Larrat celebrated the reestablishment of the LGBTI Popular Participation Council and announced the creation of a Working Group on ‘Memory and Truth,’ which will include experts and members of civil society to implement public policies addressing the historical reparation of the LGBTI population. “It is a challenge to strengthen LGBTI social movements with such a conservative congress. We won the elections, but we didn’t win the fascist wave,” she said.

Afro-descendant and indigenous leaders from civil society in Latin America shared their experiences in the panel titled Regional Experiences: Inclusion as a Tool to Strengthen Diverse Voices.” Moderated by Cecilia Ramírez, Executive Director of the Center for the Development of Afro-Peruvian Women (CEDEMUNEP), the dialogue included participants such as Maurício Yek’uana, Director of Hutukara Yanomami Association, who drew attention to the advance of drug trafficking in the countries bordering Yanomami indigenous lands in Brazil. “In addition to the miners we have been denouncing for years, criminal factions are arriving, and the government’s action is still insufficient to contain the invaders in the region,” stated Maurício Yek’uana. Adailton Moreira, Babalorixá Ilê Axé Omiojuarô, denounced religious racism and the State’s consent due to the lack of public policies that could curb violence against African-origin religions.

Representing the LGBTI agenda, the panel included Sandra Milena Arizabaleta, Legal Representative of the Afro-descendant Foundation for Social and Sexual Diversity (SOMOS IDENTIDAD) from Colombia, and Yader de los Ángeles Parajón Gutiérrez, an LGBT activist and member of the Mothers of April Association and the Unamos Party from Nicaragua.

Education and political will for anti-fascism are necessary for real inclusion. Authorities must bridge the gap between activism and the government,” expressed Sandra Milena Arizabaleta.

Yader de los Ángeles Parajón concluded, “Nicaragua owes a debt to gender identity. The violence generated by the dictatorship permeates all levels and remains silent. Many activists are persecuted. In this system, they no longer live, but they survive.” The panel also featured Wendy Geraldina López Rosales, an indigenous Guatemalan member and lawyer of the Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala (UDEFEGUA), and Cuban activist Jorge Luis García Pérez, who called for an effective alliance for the rights of their peoples.

The Guatemalan state issues arrest warrants against indigenous peoples, criminalizing them and subjecting them to inhumane treatment. They treat us as invaders, but no one can be an invader of land that historically belongs to them,” warned Wendy López.

I am a former political prisoner of Castro’s regime. My family is also a victim of fierce persecution because we are Black, because we are opponents. The dictatorship does not tolerate any form of faith either,” said Jorge Luis García Pérez, pointing out that religious persecution based on racial discrimination also exists in Cuba.

The last panel, “Coalition of Afro-descendants of the Americas and the 53rd Regular Session of the OAS General Assembly,” moderated by Elvia Duque, Senior Officer of the Race and Equality Program on Race and Ethnicity, provided the audience with a deeper understanding of the 53rd OAS General Assembly. It featured Paulina Corominas, Director of the Office of Civil Society of the Department of International Relations of the OAS, and Rosa Castro from the Association of Women of the Oaxaca Coast and Coordinator of the Afro-descendant Coalition of the Americas at the 53rd OAS General Assembly.

Paulina Corominas explained that there are 34 thematic coalitions formed within the 53rd OAS General Assembly, and on June 21, a dialogue would take place between OAS representatives and civil society. Rosa Castro highlighted some of the demands of the Afro-descendant Coalition of the Americas, which include a high-level meeting for the 10th anniversary of the CIRDI and an agenda that considers a fund for Afro-descendants.

Based on the diverse voices that resonated with the different realities and contexts of Afro-descendant, indigenous, and LGBTI peoples in Latin America, Race and Equality issued a call for unity in the Americas in the fight against racism and racial discrimination. With the CIRDI as the motto for an effective plan for its implementation by all OAS Member States by 2024, the alliance continues to support and empower civil society organizations to occupy these strategic spaces such as the Inter-American Forum against Discrimination.

Missed the event? Relive it through this link:

Learn about our CIRDI 2024 campaign!

Afro-Descendant Activists from Latin America and the Caribbean take over New York and Washington D.C.

Washington D.C., May 31, 2023 – In light of the second session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Afro-Descendants (PFPAD), which will take place from May 30 to June 2 in New York City, organizations representing Afro-descendant women from Brazil, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic have formed a Delegation for Racial Justice to denounce racial and gender violence in Latin America. With the support of the International Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights (Race and Equality) and the Black Alliance to End Violence (Fundo Elas), the Delegation for Racial Justice aims to highlight the experiences of Afro-descendant women and the urgent need for international support in building agendas and projects to combat the various forms of racist violence affecting the lives of Latin American women from an intersectional perspective.

Additionally, Race and Equality, together with the Open Society Foundation, is promoting the participation of 15 other organizations, predominantly composed of Afro-descendant women from Latin America and the Caribbean, in the Permanent Forum of Afro-Descendants. With this collaboration, the Delegation for Racial Justice will comprise approximately 30 organizations, united in their call for international cooperation to end racial and gender violence in the Americas. The objective of this delegation is also to prepare a report with recommendations and insights on the first and second sessions of the Permanent Forum, to be presented during the third session scheduled to take place in Brazil in 2023.

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Afro-Descendants was established in 2021 by General Assembly Resolution 75/314, serving as a consultative mechanism to contribute to the fight against racism and the promotion of the rights of the Afro-descendant population. The forum collaborates with the Human Rights Council and other UN mechanisms. The first meeting took place in December 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland, and in addition to the upcoming session in New York, the forum is scheduled to convene in Brazil in December of the same year. The Permanent Forum on Afro-Descendants is part of the implementation activities of the International Decade for People of African Descent and is chaired by Epsy Campbell Barr, the former Vice President of Costa Rica.

Parallel Event: Racial and Gender Violence in Latin America

On Thursday, June 1, at 1:15 p.m. (New York time), the event ‘Racial and Gender Violence in Latin America‘ will be held at the Church Center of the United Nations. The event will call upon political actors present in New York to listen to the realities of Black and LBTI Latin American women. With panels on ‘Women’s Rights and Intersectionality’ and ‘Civil Society’s Vision in the Fight Against Gender Violence in Latin America.’ This space, organized within the framework of the Permanent Forum on Afro-Descendants, aims to facilitate dialogue among Latin American women leaders, discussing the different contexts in which they live, where the brutality of structural racism manifests in terms of discrimination and violence.

Moreover, the urgency to address racial and gender violence is supported by data indicating that Latin America is one of the most violent regions in the global south, with the Black population being disproportionately affected due to the absence of specific policies. Therefore, this delegation aims to contribute to the development of the agenda and declaration of the Permanent Forum with a focus on combating racial and gender violence in Latin America. Furthermore, it seeks to establish appropriate channels for obtaining disaggregated data to better implement and propose public policies tailored to the realities of Afro-descendant individuals, particularly Afro-descendant women.

Political Advocacy Week in Washington D.C.

To strengthen and continue the work carried out during the Permanent Forum on Afro-Descendants, the delegation will travel to Washington D.C. from June 5th-7th. With the support of organizations such as the Washington Brazil Office (WBO) and Black Women Radicals, they will meet with representatives from the Department of State and Afro-North American organizations, including the Black Caucus. They will also hold meetings with missions from the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

Additionally, the Delegation for Racial Justice will strategically work towards the implementation and strengthening of bilateral international treaties among their countries, such as the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI), the Joint Action Plan for the Elimination of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination and the Promotion of Equality (JAPER), which has recently been reactivated between Brazil and the United States, and the Action Plan between the United States and Colombia for Racial and Ethnic Equality (CAPREE).

“For this delegation, it is crucial that Afro-descendant women directly present their realities and recommendations for positive change because they play a key role in defending their communities. Moreover, the context of racial justice in the Americas is an important point of exchange between Afro-Latin American and Afro-North American organizations,” explains Elvia Duque, Race and Ethnicity Officer at Race and Equality.

To conclude the week of political advocacy, the ‘Black Women’s Movement in Washington D.C.‘ event will take place on June 7, starting at 11 a.m. (Washington D.C. time), at the meeting center for Afro-descendant women, ÌPÀDÉ. The panel discussion on communication and mobilization strategies against racism and racial violence in the Americas will feature the leaders who make up the delegation.


 Delegation for Racial Justice of Afro-Descendant Women from Latin America and the Caribbean

United Nations Permanent Forum on Afro-Descendants – May 30th to June 2nd in New York

Parallel Event: Racial and Gender Violence in Latin America

Thursday, June 1, 1:15 p.m. (New York time)

Venue: UN Church Center – 777 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017. 8th floor. Located a two-minute walk from the UN headquarters.

Political Advocacy Week in Washington D.C. – June 5th to June 7th

Event: Black Women’s Movement in Washington D.C.

Wednesday, June 7, 11 a.m. (Washington D.C. time)

Venue: ÌPÀDÉ – 1734 20th St NW, Washington, DC 20009



Afro-Colombian Day: The Importance of Adopting the International Mechanisms and Instruments of Human Rights Protection

Colombia, May 23,  2023, Every May 21st, Colombia proudly celebrates Afro-Colombian Day ,[1] in commemoration of the Afro-descendent community’s historic fight for the abolition of slavery within the country. [2] This date serves as a platform to acknowledge and honor the cultural and ethnic richness of the Afro-Colombian population. While notable progress has been made in terms of rights and recognition, significant challenges persist in ensuring true equality and safeguarding the rights of black people, Afro-Colombians, as well as Raizal and Palenquero communities in Colombia. In the framework of this commemoration, the International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (hereafter, Race and Equality) proudly showcases its active involvement in international mechanisms and international instruments dedicated to protecting human rights. We urge the Colombian State to take decisive and comprehensive actions to implement these measures.

Racial discrimination, social exclusion, and racist police violence by security forces pose significant obstacles for Afro-Colombians. Despite the recognition of Colombia’s ethnic and cultural diversity in the Political Constitution, many Afro-descendant individuals continue to face prejudice and negative stereotypes that impede their opportunities and access to essential rights such as education, healthcare, and employment. In addition, the Afro-Colombian population has been affected and differentially impacted in the context of the armed conflict. For example, the Unit for the Search for Missing Persons (UBPD) has identified that 2,752 persons reported missing belong to Afro-descendant, Black, Raizal and Palenquero communities.[3] Moreover, Afro-Colombian communities have endured a troubling phenomenon of being rendered invisible by state censuses, resulting in official figures that fail to accurately represent the true size of the population. Thus, the last census conducted in 2018 ignored 30% of Afro-Colombian people, in what was considered an “irreversible damage” by the Constitutional Court, exacerbating the statistical invisibility faced by this population. Importantly, the decrease in the recorded Afro-descendant population figure cannot be attributed to changes in birth rates or mortality. Rather, it stemmed from various systemic issues present during the State-conducted census, such as security problems in certain territories and inadequate training of the personnel responsible for conducting interviews, among other factors.[4] These concerning outcomes can be attributed to a notable disregard by institutions for the persistent warnings voiced by Afro-descendent and indigenous ethnic organizations. The phenomenon of statistical invisibility significantly impacts the Afro-descendant population, representing an indirect manifestation of discrimination. Throughout the centuries, this population has had to demand their recognition in order to identify the inequalities they face and access their fundamental rights.[5] When faced with the reduction of the Afro-descendant population in Colombia in 2018, the Colombian State overlooked a critical opportunity to consider and adopt public policies designed to support Afro-descendant groups.

In light of this situation, it is imperative that the Colombian State embraces the adoption of International Conventions and Instruments aimed at safeguarding the rights of the Afro-Colombian population and combatting systemic racism and racial discrimination. Notably, the role of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1965 and entered into force in 1969, is of great significance. Colombia ratified ICERD in 1981, committing itself to take measures to prevent and eradicate racial discrimination in all its forms in the country.[6] Among ICERD’s main recommendations are the need to adopt effective measures to prevent, investigate, and punish racism and racial discrimination in all its forms. It also emphasizes the importance of strengthening the institutions responsible for guaranteeing equality and non-discrimination, as well as promoting education and awareness regarding the cultural and ethnic diversity present in the country.

Universal Period Review (UPR)

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process that takes place every four and a half years and involves the evaluation of the human rights records of all United Nations Member States. It is a process sponsored by the Human Rights Council, which gives each State the opportunity to report on the measures it has taken to improve the human rights situation in its country and to fulfill its human rights obligations. The process involves the State, which may submit a national report, experts, and independent groups,[7] as well as national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations. In the fourth cycle of the UPR, Colombia presented contributions on actions implemented to guarantee human rights at the national level. Race and Equality also participated with a report on the human rights situation of Afro-descendants in Colombia, which describes the recommendations implemented and establishes new recommendations to ensure compliance on issues such as the armed conflict, the implementation of the Peace Agreement, the situation of Afro-descendant human rights defenders and actions against racism and racial discrimination.

The Institute’s report highlights several key recommendations, including the following:

  • Establish an effective follow-up mechanism for the implementation of the Ethnic Chapter of the Peace Agreement that promotes dialogue between state institutions andAfro-descendant communities.
  • Implement a risk assessment that guarantees the incorporation of the ethnic-racial, gender, and territorial approach, from an intersectional perspective, in the discussions of the Committee for Risk Assessment and Recommendation of Measures (CERREM).
  • Strengthen and promote the participation of black, Afro-descendant, as well as Raizal and Palenquero communities in the risk analysis process in order to adopt protection measures that respond to the needs of protected persons.
  • Develop permanent participatory spaces from a territorial approach with Afro-descendant communities for accountability on the implementation of the Peace Agreement and the Ethnic Chapter to promote monitoring and direct dialogue with State institutions.
  • Design and implement a protocol to establish monitoring mechanisms for the implementation of Law 1482 of 2011.
  • Ratify the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI) and the Inter-American Convention against all Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance (CIDI).

The International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in the Context of Law Enforcement – EMLER

The International Independent Expert Mechanism is an initiative to promote racial justice and equality in the context of law enforcement. It aims to ensure that police practices are fair and impartial, and that human rights are respected at all times. The mechanism is composed of independent experts from around the world, working closely with national and local authorities, as well as civil society and human rights organizations. Its task is to conduct impartial and objective investigations into allegations of human rights violations by law enforcement, and to make recommendations to improve police practices and prevent future violations.

This year, Race and Equality and the National Conference of Afro-Colombian Organizations (C.N.O.A.) submitted a joint written contribution to the Mechanism, with the objective of collaborating in the creation of the second report, as established in paragraph 15 of Human Rights Council resolution 47/21. The report describes and analyzes promising initiatives and good practices being adopted in Colombia to address systemic racism within law enforcement.

Promising strides have been taken to confront systemic racism within law enforcement, encompassing transformative measures that challenge the long-standing paradigm of perceiving and eradicating an internal enemy. Noteworthy initiatives include the comprehensive reform of the police force, facilitating the reconstruction of citizen security. Additionally, the establishment of the Dialogue and Maintenance of Order Unit represents an important step towards reforming the ESMAD. Furthermore, the inclusion of a human security approach in the protection of social leaders, with a focus on individual and collective differential perspectives, signifies a significant advancement. Lastly, the creation of a dedicated Ministry for Peace underscores the commitment to fostering a more equitable and just society.

Likewise, civil society organizations have carried out initiatives to denounce systemic racism within law enforcement agencies, among which we highlight: The GRITA Platform[8] and Policarpa[9] de Temblores NGO and the Statement of Proposals on Police Reform addressed to the State, [10] prepared by Mesa por la Reforma Policial, of which Race and Equality is a member.

Some recommendations included in the contribution to the Mechanism made by Race and Equality and the C.N.O.A are:

  • Inclusion and implementation of differential approaches, from an intersectional perspective, in the policies and structures of the Public Force
  • Implementation of human rights training for the police force
  • Guarantee the right to protest through the existence of differentiated protocols in contexts of social demonstrations
  • Transform the doctrine of the National Police
  • Establish accountability mechanisms and citizen oversight mechanisms.
  • Guarantee access to justice for victims of police violence and racist police violence

Ratification of the Inter-American Convention Against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI)

The Inter-American Convention Against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI) was adopted by the OAS in 2013 to protect and promote the human rights of all persons regardless of race, color, ancestry, or ethnic origin. The Colombian government signed this convention in 2014 but it has not yet been ratified. A bill was filed in Congress in 2021 to ratify the Convention and promote its effective implementation in the Americas. The convention seeks to prevent and eliminate racial discrimination and other forms of intolerance, promote equality and combat racism in all its forms.

The ratification of CIRDI is a fundamental step to consolidate the Colombian government’s commitment to promote and guarantee human rights and the fight against structural racism and racial discrimination.

On the occasion of Afro-Colombian Day, the Institute on Race and Equality emphatically calls upon the Colombian State to adopt a comprehensive approach to tackle the various forms of discrimination and exclusion faced by the Afro-Colombian population. This entails not only implementing specific measures to ensure their protection and foster their social inclusion, but also recognizing and appreciating their invaluable historical legacy within the country.

In essence, Afro-Colombian Day serves as a poignant reminder of the significance of acknowledging and valuing the nation’s ethnic and cultural diversity, while simultaneously implementing effective measures to guarantee equality and protect the rights of all individuals. Consequently, it is crucial for the Colombian State to embrace international mechanisms for rights protection, alongside concrete actions to combat racism and racial discrimination, and to promote the social inclusion of the Afro-Colombian population.


[2] Consagrada en la Ley 21 de mayo 21 de 1851





[7] Procedimientos especiales, organismos de tratados, de derechos humanos, y otras entidades de las Naciones unidas





Press Release: Civil society Organizations Request the Government of Colombia to Promote the Ratification of the Inter-American Convention Against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI)

Colombia, March 23, 2023. In the framework of the commemoration of March 21, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, human rights organizations request the National Government of Colombia to actively promote the ratification of the Inter-American Convention Against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI for its Spanish acronym) in accordance with the recent bill that seeks its ratification.

This Convention, adopted by the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) in 2013, establishes an international legal framework for the protection and promotion of the human rights of all persons, without distinction as to race, color, ancestry, or ethnic origin. It also seeks to prevent and eliminate racial discrimination and other forms of intolerance, promote equality, and combat racism in all its forms.

In 2014, the Colombian government signed two Inter-American human rights instruments: the Inter-American Convention Against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance, and the Inter-American Convention Against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance. Both instruments strengthen the domestic regulatory framework in the fight against all forms of discrimination, recognizing that Colombia is a multiethnic country and respectful of diversity; however, to date these international instruments have not been ratified. In 2021, a bill was presented in Congress to achieve the ratification of CIRDI; the bill is the result of a collective process with different actors of the Indigenous and Roma (Gypsy) peoples, and led by Afro-Colombian activists thanks to the CIRDI 2024 Campaign “Towards a region free of racial discrimination” promoted by Race and Equality with the objective of promoting the ratification and universal and effective implementation of CIRDI in the Americas.

In Colombia, racism and racial discrimination continue to be a reality in the daily lives of many people, making them victims of multiple human rights violations in all social spheres. It is therefore essential that the State adhere to this Convention and commit to guaranteeing the right to equality and non-discrimination in all spheres of public and private life.

The ratification of the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI) is a crucial step to consolidate the commitment of the Colombian Government in the promotion and guarantee of human rights and the fight against structural racism and racial discrimination. In this sense, we call on the national government to promote its prompt ratification and to articulate in all its actions, programs, and reforms the provisions of this Convention, which develops important measures based on the specific realities of Latin America and the Caribbean, and the national context in the fight against racism and racial discrimination. For example, in actions related to police reform against racial profiling practices and human rights training from an intersectional perspective; actions against racial discrimination in educational institutions; measurement strategies that guarantee the collection of data disaggregated by ethno-racial affiliation; and, in general, the implementation of measures that articulate an ethno-racial approach from an intersectional and racial justice perspective.

Finally, the undersigned organizations reiterate the need to follow up on the bill that seeks the ratification of CIRDI, in order to eradicate all forms of racism and racial discrimination in the country.

Asociación Nacional de Afrocolombianos Desplazados – AFRODES.

Coordinación de Mujeres Afrocolombianas Desplazadas en Resistencia – La COMADRE.

Convergencia Nacional de Organizaciones Afrocolombianas – CNOA.

Colectivo Justicia Racial.

Fundación Afrodescendiente por las diversidades sociales y sexuales Somos Identidad.

Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia- ONIC.

The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights

Afro Latines Advocacy Week: Race and Equality brings organizations from Brazil and Colombia to Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C., September 27th 2022 – From the 27th to the 30th of September, the International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) brings human rights organizations from Brazil and Colombia to Washington, D.C., working to promote and defend the rights of the Black and LGBTI+ population.  In order to promote an exchange of political advocacy strategies between the Afro-Latine and the Afro-American movements, the meetings will take place within the framework of Black Caucus Week; an annual conference of Black U.S. Congress that aims to boost and debate the civic engagement of the Black population. In addition, the delegation participates in academic meetings with U.S. civil society organizations and private meetings with congress members and state departments.

The Brazil-Colombia delegation present in Washington D.C is formed by the organizations: Geledés – Instituto da Mulher Negra (BR) that will be represented by Rodnei Jericó da Silva, Coordinator of SOS Racismo;  NGO Criola (BR) with the presence of the Project Coordinator, Lia Manso;  Somos Identidad (COL), with the Founder Johana Sinisterra and the Legal Representative Sandra Milena Ibarbo;  and the Asociación Nacional de Afrocolombianos Desplazados (AFRODES – COL), with the presence of Coordinator Luz Marina Becerra.  Representing Race and Equality, the Executive Director Carlos Quesada; Zuleika Rivera, Senior Officer of the LGBTI Program and Brazil Program Officer, Nathaly Calixto, will be present at these meetings.

In this exchange among Black Pan-American organizations, the Latin American organizations aim to take the Black and LGBTI+ perspectives of the global southern diaspora for an effective political impact, as well as exchanges of good practices so that they can move together to achieve plural racial justice. It’s important to emphasize that, for Race and Equality, these meetings are an opportunity to promote strategies of structural political changes with an intersectional bias; as Brazil is in the electoral period, Colombia’s President values racial agendas and, this year, the U.S. Congress goes through midterms elections.

“It’s precisely in this configuration that we empower organizations to act with political implications. Being able to talk to Black U.S. Congress members about the Latin American racial agenda is one way to influence the Biden administration, because it needs a congressional majority to pass its agendas.  It is in this sense that we plan to ensure and strengthen international human rights agreements on racial and gender justice and, in this case, there’s nothing better than organizations to guide the demands of their countries,” says Carlos Quesada.

Brazil and Colombia: In Search of Racial Justice

As the U.S. academic community seeks to understand and foster studies on the Black diaspora, the BRA-COL delegation will meet with academics and students at Howard University to share the efforts of regional civil society organizations in defending human rights. The idea is to show that even though racism is a global issue, the different sociocultural dynamics and the deficit economic contexts produced by centuries of colonialism, impact primarily on the most vulnerable populations in Latin America and Afro-Caribbean. In this case, to make known the racial and gender equity agenda of these organizations, can stimulate studies that provide, in  the future, the construction of equitable global public policies.

Brazil, for example, has the highest murder rate of LGBTI+ people in the world, and this incidence rate cross-referenced from an intersectional perspective is highest in trans-Black women in vulnerable situations. The organizations Geledés and Criola, together with Race and Equality in Brazil, conducted a survey monitoring the closure of civic spaces, in which they mapped that the rise of an ultraconservative agenda has generated attacks on the Brazilian democratic system, criminalization of human rights defenders and the immobilization of citizen participation councils and associations. With this, there are growing attacks and hate speech against Black women and elected LBTIs who intend to participate in the political life of the country.

In Colombia, for years the Afro-Colombian community has suffered a process of marginalization and vulnerabilization, and the civil society and Afro-Colombian leaders have denounced the existence of a geographical apartheid reinforced by structural and institutional racism.  This same structure resonates in erasing the struggle for the existence of ethnic peoples, which reinforce that civil rights in the country must be thought of in multiethnic and multicultural perspectives, taking into account how racist violence impacts these territories and racialized bodies. Similarly, for Colombian LGBTI+ people, the scene of gender and racial violence continues to increase: from January to June 2022,  354 victims of  sexual orientation assaults were recorded, 324 of whom suffered some physical abuse and  229 suffered these abuses within their own families.

The excessive use of police force in both Brazil and Colombia is a complaint presented to international human rights mechanisms.  The armed conflict in Colombia and police forces in Brazil intersect in the profile of their victims: Black people in vulnerable living conditions in territories whose presence of the state is marked by police violence. In Colombia, at least 1,144,486 people who identified themselves as part of the Black population were recorded as victims of armed conflict, according to data from the National Information Network, which corresponds to 38.38% of the total. In Brazil, the Brazilian Public Safety Yearbook points out that of the total of 6,145 deaths by police intervention, in 2021, 84.1% were Black and 15.8% were white.

Why the Black population is seen as a threat

In addition to this question and many others that permeate the racist structure that found the police corporations of Latin America, Race and Equality in partnership with organizations in Brazil and Colombia, continue in a regional project to confront and denounce racist police violence in both countries.  In the face of this meeting in Washington, D.C., police violence that intersects with the Black and LGBTI+ populations will also be the subject of meetings to placate this colonial modus operandi, in which Black bodies are exempt from the presumption of innocence and, because they exist, are victims of all violence and seen as a threat, whether in Latin American countries or Anglo America.

In view of this, racism, gender-based violence and LGBTIphobia pose the real threat to a system of oppression that disrespects inalienable human rights and international treaties that value their guarantees. For this, Race and Equality with the BRA-COL delegation intend to denounce to the American Congress members the current milestones of violation of the rights of the Black population and LGBTI+ Latin America. The exchange of these dissenting voices reaffirms the purpose of further denouncing racism and its different forms of violence that prevent the full exercise of citizenship, freedom of expression and the right to development of these countries as a call for partnership and inclusion of the Black population of all the Americas.

International Day for People of African Descent: What Are We Doing to Promote and Defend their Rights?

Washington D.C., August 31, 2022.  This August 31, the International Day for People of African Descent celebrates its second year, promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of people of African descent. In the Americas, there are 134 million people of African descent, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). This population continues to face human rights challenges and is victim to different manifestations of discrimination and violence.

For this reason, as the International Day for People of African Descent is commemorated once again, the International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) encourages States to assume and implement actions for the promotion and protection of this vulnerable population, using the frameworks of the International Decade for People of African Descent, and other existing mechanisms within the Inter-American System and the United Nations.

About August 31 and Other International Mechanisms

On December 16, 2020, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 75/170 proclaiming August 31 as the International Day for People of African Descent. “To promote greater recognition and respect for the diversity of the legacy, culture, and contribution of people of African descent to the development of societies, as well as to promote respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of people of African descent,” reads the Resolution.

The plan of activities for the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024) has been the driving force behind this type of action. One of its main objectives is to adopt and strengthen national legal frameworks in accordance with the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, ensuring their full and effective implementation.

Additionally, the record of acts of discrimination and violence against people of African descent—such as the murder of the African-American citizen George Floyd in May 2020 in the United States—has impacted the vigilance and adoption of international mechanisms for the human rights of Afro-descendant populations and racial justice.

For example, a month after Floyd’s death, the UN Human Rights Council adopted Resolution 43/1, “Promotion and protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Africans and people of African descent from excessive use of force and other human rights violations by law enforcement officials,” which calls for widespread attention to racism and implores States to take an active role in meeting their objective of racial justice.

In 2021, the United Nations adopted two important mechanisms. One of them is the Permanent Forum of Afro-descendants, which was approved in August through Resolution 75/314 of the United Nations General Assembly, with the mission of being an advisory body of the Human Rights Council. Among its mandates is that of, “contributing to the full political, economic, and social inclusion of Afro-descendants in the societies in which they live, with an equal footing to other citizens and without discrimination of any kind and contribute to ensuring the equal enjoyment of all human rights.”

Moreover, in a resolution adopted on July 13, 2021, the Human Rights Council decided to establish an international mechanism of independent experts, composed of three experts with experience in law enforcement and human rights, and appointed by the chairman. Its mandate is to examine systemic racism and the excessive use of force and other violations of international human rights law against Africans and people of African descent by law enforcement officials around the world.

What are we doing?

To contribute to living in a more just and equitable society, Race and Equality works with partner organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean in the defense and protection of the rights of people of African descent and Afro-LGBTI+ populations, using capacity building to promote visibility, documentation, and strategic litigation before the Inter-American System and the United Nations.

In July, in Brazil, Race and Equality organized a visit by Margarette May Macaulay, the Rapporteur for People of African Descent of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The Commissioner had the opportunity to hear complaints from the black population, especially those related to police brutality and religious racism. In addition, in May Race and Equality launched the ‘Kátia Tapety Political Training School’ for Afro-BLTI women, with the aim of strengthening civil participation in collective decision-making spaces, with particular emphasis placed on reducing gender and race gaps in political participation at the regional, national, and global level.

Additionally in Brazil, Race and Equality has been working on projects that denounce the closure of civic spaces for black and indigenous movements; the fight against religious racism; the protection and defense of the Afro-LGBTI+ populations; the political strengthening of black, indigenous LBTI women; and the fight against police violence. It also monitors the implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI), which was ratified at the end of 2021 in Brazil.

In Colombia, Race and Equality carried out, in conjunction with organizations in Cali, documentation activities and the preparation of a report on the effects and differential impacts of violence against people of African descent in Cali within the framework of the 2021 National Strike. In the coming days, together with the organizations Ilex-Acción Jurídica, Temblores NGOs, and the Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement (CODHES), Race and Equality will publish a national report on police brutality and racial bias.

In relation to advocacy processes before the United Nations on the disproportionate use of force against people of African descent, Race and Equality recently presented a report for the Mechanism of Experts to Promote Justice and Racial Equality in Law Enforcement. It also submitted a report on inputs for the preparation of the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 47/21- this in coalition with Ilex-Acción Jurídica, CODHES, Black Communities Process (PCN), and the Center for Afrodiasporic Studies (CEAF) of the ICESI University of Cali.

In Mexico, within the framework of the International Day of Afro-Latin, Afro-Caribbean and Diaspora Women, Race and Equality launched on July 25 the project, “Promotion of an anti-racist agenda to strengthen the work of civil society organizations in the fight against racism and racial discrimination in Mexico,” which is being implemented thanks to the support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

One of the first activities of this project consisted of a cycle of conferences given between August 25 and 26 by Dr. Pastor Murillo, a member of the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent. The conferences, which were held both in Mexico City and in Mérida, Yucatán State, revolved around international tools to combat racism and racial discrimination, and the role of universities.

At the regional level, Race and Equality maintains the CIRDI 2024 campaign, “towards a region free of racial discrimination,” for the promotion of the signature, ratification, and implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Intolerance (CIRDI). Within the framework of this campaign, Race and Equality has considered working hand in hand with local organizations to strengthen their monitoring capacities in countries where this Convention has been ratified, as well as advocate in other countries where it has only been signed.

Race and Equality continues to make racial discrimination visible utilizing an intersectional perspective, through the Inter-American Forum against Discrimination, an event held each year with the participation of international experts and activists from the region. Its main objectives are to promote the effective participation of non-governmental organizations in the framework of the OAS General Assemblies and Summits of the Americas, to improve their impact within the system, and to make visible both the different discriminations faced in the Americas and the main demands of the different sectors of the population that are victims of discrimination, especially Afro-descendants and LGBTI population.

For Race and Equality, it is important to emphasize the promotion and protection tools offered by international mechanisms, such as CIRDI, for the benefit of people of African descent. We firmly believe that it is through these instruments States can adopt and implement clear and effective policies to guarantee the human rights and social welfare of people of African descent. To this end, it is essential to work with civil society organizations that protect the rights of this population, since they guarantee the visibility of their realities, and follow up on national and international commitments.

On August 31, Race and Equality reaffirms its commitment to defend and protect the rights of people of African descent in the Americas and calls on States to adopt measures and strengthen those already in place, based on the recognition of the historical inequalities that this ethnic group has faced. Two years before the end of the International Decade for People of African Descent, this task is not only urgent, but represents a true commitment to democracy and social inclusion.

Colombia: first transitional justice experience in the world that includes a sexual and intersectional diversity approach

Colombia, august 9, 2022.-The Truth Commission makes history by clarifying that the armed actors and the public forces instrumentalized, chased, disappeared, displaced and murdered LGBTIQ+ people because of their[1] diverse sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions.

On June 28, the Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition (CEV), published its final report with findings and recommendations, after three years of investigation and collection of testimonies that account for the impacts of more than half a century of armed conflict in Colombia. The delivery of this report marks the culmination of the work carried out by the Truth Commission in recent years, in which more than 30,000 individual and collective interviews of victims, armed actors and public officials were conducted. Among the objectives of the report is to clarify the patterns of violence identified in the context of the armed conflict in the country, to make public the disproportionate impacts of the war on the victims, and to contribute to the search for guarantees of coexistence and non-repetition in the territories.

The final report of the Commission also has a specific chapter entitled My body is the truth: experiences of women and LGBTIQ+ people in the armed conflict, related to violence against women and LGBTI+ people, which turns out to be a pioneer in the experiences of searching for truth and reconciliation in the world. Previous processes in other countries have made mention of LGBTI+ people, such as in Ecuador[2] or Brazil, in which specific recommendations were presented for the eradication of prejudice against SOGID (sexual orientation and gender identity-diverse). However, this is the first time that a Truth Commission has devoted an entire section to understanding the complexity of the violence perpetrated against them in a context of massive human rights violations. In the document, the Commission makes use of intersectional, territorial, and ethnic-racial approaches to clarify the causes of violence perpetrated against LGBTI+ people beyond the armed conflict, recognize the differentiated impacts on their lives, highlight their experiences of resistance and propose recommendations in terms of reparation and non-repetition.

Important findings and conclusions are derived from the section focused on the life experiences of LGBTI+ victims of the armed conflict. We highlight the effort of the Commission to provide elements to recognize the patterns of violence exercised by the different armed groups and the public forces in a differentiated manner, as well as its interest in unraveling its particularities according to the period of time and the region of the country in which it was given. Similarly, we consider highly relevant the recognition of the exercise of reproductive violence, perpetrated especially against trans men, with the aim of controlling the body and the SOGI of LGBTI+ people, especially in view of the announcement of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace to open Macrocase 011, in which sexual violence and other crimes motivated by gender, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity of the victim in the context of and due to the armed conflict will be investigated and prosecuted. Also noteworthy is the inclusion of an approach that took into account the experiences related to violence against LGBTI+ people who had HIV/AIDS and the stigma that fell on LGBTI+ people for considering them innate carriers of the disease, which was promoted by the armed groups due to ignorance and manipulation of beliefs about it.

We also highlight the efforts of the Commission to portray the stories of resistance and the collective efforts of LGBTI+ victims to face violence, accompany them in pain and healing, testimonies that provide very relevant elements for the proposal and implementation of reparation measures and of non-repetition closer to the life experiences and needs of the victims.

The chapter ends with a series of recommendations for the guarantee of rights and the non-repetition of the violence identified after listening to and reflecting on the testimonies of LGTBIQ+ people and social organizations. These recommendations are based on promoting legal, social, political, economic, and cultural changes to guarantee access to justice, preserve memory and generate conditions of material equality for LGBTI+ people.

“Changing the historical conditions of violence against LGBTIQ+ people implies a commitment to recognizing what happened and adopting new forms of action and visions so that such violence does not continue to occur.”

At the same time, the role of the State is highlighted in the creation of conditions that guarantee the implementation of the recommendations set forth by the Commission, applying differential approaches, with a gender and anti-racist perspective; and that of Colombian society and the international community, promoting spaces for dialogue and reflection, and carrying out the corresponding oversight to generate an ideal path in the search for peaceful coexistence and a dignified life for all people.

Race and Equality welcomes the presentation of the final report and calls on the new Colombian Government to comply with the recommendations made by the Commission and take into consideration the findings when implementing measures related to the armed conflict and the guarantee of rights and non-repetition of violence against LGBTI+ people, involving them in decision-making spaces actively and permanently.

[1] Acronym used by the Truth Commission

[2] In 2010, the Truth Commission presented its report divided into five volumes with a series of recommendations of a legal, administrative and social nature; and the drafting of a proposal for a Comprehensive Reparation Law. There, it is recommended to incorporate public policies that favor non-discrimination by SOGI and the eradication of violence due to prejudice at the hands of LGBTI organizations and guarantee the participation of LGBTI people and women in the Equality Councils. Available at:

[3] Confirming with Isaac. As comprehensive reparation measures, the National Truth Commission asks the Government of Brazil, among others, to apologize publicly to the LGBT community, build public places of memory for the victims of the LGBT community, criminalize homolesbotransphobia and approve a law on free gender identity.




EDITORIAL: An opportunity for change for Colombia

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,[1] 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).[2]

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.”[3] 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.[4]

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.”[5]

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,[6] 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.


[1] Naciones Unidas. Bachelet pide resolver las circunstancias que provocan las crisis, el hambre y la pobreza. 13 de junio de 2022.


[3] Transparencia por Colombia. Denuncias y alertas de fraude electoral requieren una acción pronta y rigurosa de las autoridades. 18 de marzo de 2022.

[4] Democracia en Riesgo. Alterada la confianza en el manejo del proceso electoral. 1 de marzo de 2022.

[5] Misión de Observación Electoral – MOE. 131 municipios de Colombia presentan los mayores riesgos para las elecciones de 2022: MOE. 9 de febrero de 2022.

[6] El Colombiano. “En Colombia no es posible ningún fraude electoral”: Registrador. 6 de junio de 2022.

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