Colombian authorities should ensure independent and impartial investigations against police officers allegedly responsible for the killing of seven protesters during an October 2017 demonstration, Human Rights Watch and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights said today as they submitted an amicus brief to the country’s Constitutional Court. Four years after the so-called “El Tandil massacre,” no meaningful justice has been delivered.
The amicus brief calls on the high court to ensure that the investigation into these killings, in the town of El Tandil, Nariño state, is carried out in the civilian justice system—not in military courts, where it currently stands. The brief also outlines Colombia’s obligations to protect and respect the right to peaceful assembly, as well as to ensure victims’ rights to justice.
“Investigations into El Tandil’s massacre have been marred with lies and delays,” said Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “Colombian authorities should transfer the case to the civilian justice system and ensure independent and impartial investigations.”
The National Police initially alleged that the protesters had died after the Oliver Sinisterra Front, a group that emerged from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas, fired “at least five cylinder bombs” and later “fired indiscriminately with rifles and submachine guns” at protesters and members of the security forces.