Photo: Felipe Beltrán / ICRC Colombia

Calls to action for Colombia in 2024

The reality of Colombians living in the midst of armed conflict and violence remains complex. These are our calls to action for the year 2024 on the issues that most concern us in Colombia.
Article 03 April 2024 Colombia

To state and non-state armed actors

  • We call on armed actors to respect IHL, whether or not there are ceasefires or peace talks. Complying with these rules reduces the suffering caused by armed conflicts. Armed actors have an obligation to respect the life and dignity of civilians and of those who have ceased to participate in hostilities.
  • We emphasize the duty of these actors to respect and protect the lives of injured people and medical personnel. Injured or sick people, whether civilians or not, are protected and have the right to be picked up and cared for; likewise, each party to an armed conflict must respect and protect transportation used to evacuate the wounded and sick, health infrastructure, the transport of medical personnel and materials, and the delivery of necessary medical supplies.
  • We reiterate to state and non-state armed groups the need to protect the civilian population from the devastating consequences of the presence, use and abandonment of explosive devices. They must also consider the effects of the presence of these devices on entire communities, particularly in places that are crucial for minors, such as schools and playgrounds.
  • We remind these actors that they have an obligation to avoid the disappearance of people and to make efforts to prevent such disappearances. Likewise, these groups must help solve disappearances and search for persons reported missing in the context of armed conflicts, as well as respect the human dignity of the deceased.
  • We urge them to respect the special protection that IHL gives to children and adolescents. The recruitment, use and direct participation in hostilities of minors is a violation of IHL and has profound consequences on their lives, their families and society.
  • Humanitarian action, which is essential for the affected communities, must be respected at all times, and therefore impartial humanitarian organizations and their staff must be afforded rapid and unimpeded access.

To the ongoing negotiation tables between the state and armed groups

  • We urge them to include humanitarian concerns as a fundamental point on the negotiation and dialogue agendas. We urge them to adopt special agreements on the strengthening of IHL and specific issues aimed at protecting the civilian population and others affected by armed conflicts. These agreements might be about disappearance and search; the recruitment, use and direct participation in hostilities of minors; explosive devices; protected areas; people deprived of their liberty; humanitarian access; respect for health services, among other issues.

To State institutions

  • We remind these institutions of the need to take all measures to prevent violations of IHL, as well as to respond to the humanitarian needs caused by armed conflicts as comprehensively, quickly and fully as possible. We urge continued investment in plans and programmes for people affected by armed conflicts.
  • We call for guaranteeing the rights of the victims of armed conflicts by strengthening the routes available for prevention and care.

On specific topics:

On the subject of health care:

  • We urge parties to armed conflicts to respect and protect health-care providers at all times. Their work is to alleviate the suffering caused by armed conflicts and violence. We remind all concerned of the impor- tance of allowing their work without any arbitrary restrictions. Access to health care must be guaranteed at all times and everywhere.

On the subject of disappearance:

  • We call on the State to implement the national search system and strengthen the Unit for the Search for Missing Persons and the medico-legal system. Like- wise, we reiterate the need to ensure that the relatives of the victims of disappearance are guaranteed access to, and timely care at, physical and mental health services, as well as access to justice and opportunities for their economic livelihoods.
  • We call on the parties involved in the current peace negotiations to propose measures for collecting information on missing people and the location of the remains of deceased people.

With respect to people deprived of their liberty in penitentiary centres:

  • We recommend that all necessary measures be taken to develop comprehensive care programmes for people deprived of liberty, with a particular focus on those suffering from mental disorders, which include a psychosocial and medical therapeutic approach, with a multidisciplinary rehabilitation component.
  • We look forward to an early ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, which will allow for adequate monitoring of detention conditions.
  • It is essential that the criminal justice system supports the implementation of Act 2292 of 2023 and recognizes the importance of the new alternative mechanism to imprisonment. We support this decision that favours women heads of household.