COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES
PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding Observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
1. The Committee
considered the sixth and seventh periodic reports of Colombia (CERD/C/257/Add.1)
at its 1135th and 1136th meetings (CERD/C/SR.1135-1136), held on 29 February
and 1 March 1996, and adopted at its 1149th meeting, held on 11 March 1996,
the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee
expresses appreciation for the opportunity to continue the dialogue with
the State party on the basis of its sixth and seventh periodic reports.
It regrets, however, that the report did not provide concrete information
on the implementation of the Convention in practice and therefore did not
fully comply with the State party's obligations under article 9 of the Convention.
The Committee also noted that many concerns and recommendations expressed
during previous dialogues between the State party and the Committee remained
3. It is noted
that the State party has not made the declaration provided for in article
14 of the Convention, and some members of the Committee requested that the
possibility of such declaration be considered.
B. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the Convention
4. It is recognized
that the climate of generalized violence linked to the guerilla war, the
narco-trafficking and the existence of paramilitary armed groups impedes
the full implementation of the Convention.
C. Positive aspects
5. The recent legislative
and institutional measures adopted by the Government of Colombia to bring
the national legislation into closer conformity with the Convention and
to enhance the protection of the human rights of indigenous and Afro-Colombians
are welcomed. In that connection, note is taken of the adoption in 1991
of the new Constitution, in 1993 of Law No. 70, and of the creation of the
Directorate of Black Community Affairs within the Ministry of Home Affairs.
D. Principal subjects of concern
6. The lack of
reliable statistical and qualitative data on the demographic composition
of the Colombian population and on the enjoyment of political, economic,
social and cultural rights by the indigenous and the Afro-Colombian people
makes it difficult to evaluate the results of different measures and policies.
7. It is also noted
that the report did not provide information on indicators and other mechanisms
aimed at evaluating the governmental policies for the protection of the
rights of indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, including the land
use and ownership policies.
8. Particular concern
is expressed at the lack of effective implementation of policies aiming
at guaranteeing to indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities the control
of the quality of their environment and the exploitation of their territories.
9. Concern is expressed
once again that the State party has not implemented the provisions contained
in article 4 of the Convention, which call for the enactment of specific
penal legislation. It is stressed that the State party's obligation under
article 4 of the Convention is mandatory and should be fully implemented.
9 (a). Particular
concern is expressed over reports that the rights of indigenous persons
have been violated by men in uniform.
10. Serious concern
is expressed at the lack of implementation of article 5 of the Convention.
It is noted that various corroborating sources of information indicate the
persistence in the Colombian society of structural discriminatory attitudes
towards the indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, appearing at various
levels of the political, economic and social life of the country. Those
discriminatory attitudes relate, among others, to the right to life and
the security of persons, political participation, educational and occupational
possibilities, access to basic public services, the right to health, the
right to adequate housing, the application of the law, land ownership and
11. As regards
implementation of article 6 of the Convention, concern was expressed that
the insufficient information provided concerning cases of judicial remedy
for acts of racial discrimination does not allow it to undertake proper
E. Suggestions and recommendations
12. The Committee
requests the Government of Colombia to provide in its next report detailed
and accurate information addressing the concerns expressed by the Committee.
13. The Committee
recommends that efficient mechanisms be immediately created by the Government
to coordinate and evaluate the various policies of protection of the rights
of indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, including their institutional
aspects. Such mechanisms should promote full enjoyment of all human rights
by the members of these communities and guarantee their life and security,
as well as real and adequate participation by representatives of these communities
in public life.
14. The Committee
reaffirms that the provisions of article 4 are mandatory, as stated in its
general recommendation VII (32). The Committee stresses that Colombia should
carry out all its obligations under the mandatory provisions of the Convention.
In doing so, the Government should also take into account general recommendation
XV (42) of the Committee.
15. The Committee
expects the State party to continue and to strengthen its efforts to improve
the effectiveness of measures and programmes aimed at guaranteeing to all
groups of the population the full enjoyment of their political, economic,
social and cultural rights. The Committee also recommends to the State party
to give the necessary attention to the migration processes, including by
undertaking large-scale awareness-raising programmes oriented towards human
rights and tolerance, in order to avoid social and racial prejudices and
16. The Committee
recommends that particular attention be paid to the problem of unlawful
orders in the military, police and law enforcement agencies. Instances of
unlawful orders issued and carried out should be investigated and those
found to have committed illegal actions should be punished. Impunity should
be eliminated. These matters should also be covered in the training programmes
of the agencies mentioned.
17. The Committee
recommends a stronger commitment on the part of the Government of Colombia
to defend the basic rights of indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities
as far as the use and ownership of their land is concerned.
18. The Committee
further recommends that the next periodic report of Colombia contain detailed
information on cases of judicial remedy for acts of racial discrimination.
19. The Committee
suggests that the State party intensify its cooperation with the technical
assistance programme of the United Nations Centre for Human Rights, including
for the training of those involved in activities related to human rights
and for the education of the younger generation.
20. The Committee
recommends that the State party ratify the amendments to article 8, paragraph
6, of the Convention, adopted by the 14th meeting of States parties.
21. The Committee
recommends that the State party's next periodic report, due on 2 October
1996, be an updating report and that it address all the points raised in
the present observations.