June 25, 2021

Reps. Castro and Sires Express Deep Concern About Disappearances in Colombia

WASHINGTON — In response to reports of disappearances during protests over the last two months in Colombia, Reps. Albio Sires (D-NJ) and Joaquin Castro (D-TX) issued the following statement:

“We are deeply disturbed by reports of dozens of disappearances during the crackdown on protestors in Colombia. We call on President Duque and the Colombian government to thoroughly investigate each case to locate those who are missing and reunite them with their families. If security officials are found to have carried out forced disappearances, they must be prosecuted. Furthermore, we call on the Colombian government to offer support to the victims of forced disappearances and their families. We also believe that the families of the disappeared deserve complete transparency from the government as they seek information about their loved ones.

“As members of Congress who have consistently supported Colombia, it is deeply painful to witness the violence, instability, and social rupture that the country is experiencing. We are concerned about the future of Colombia and are wary that these events are leading the country in the wrong direction. We reiterate the importance for the Colombian state to fully protect the right to peaceful protest and we condemn the actions of a minority of those on the streets who have sought to take advantage of the situation to harm police, disrupt economic activity, and sow chaos.

“We welcome the recent announcement by the Colombian government of a much-needed police reform effort and look forward to closely monitoring its progress, and working with Colombia to enhance protection for human rights in its policing.” 

According to Colombia’s Attorney General’s office, 84 people remain unaccounted for and four of these cases are being investigated as forced disappearances. Some civil society groups say that they have documented at least 700 disappearances since the beginning of the protests in late April. The United Nations and Organization of American States have also expressed alarm about disappearances in Colombia.