Colombia

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Persistent violations
  • Extrajudicial executions[1]
  • Enforced disappearances of children[2]
  • Children continue to be victims of torture, cruel and degrading treatment[3]
  • Sexual violence[4]
  • Recruitment of children in the armed conflict by FARC-EP and ELN and lack of demobilisation measures[5]
  • Insufficient sex education[6]
  • In spite of the decision by the Constitutional Court to decriminalise abortion where the pregnancy represents a risk to the life or health of the mother, in cases of serious malformation of the foetus or in cases of rape, the incidence of illegal and unsafe abortions and related maternal mortality remain high, and the lack of access to legal abortion services for women at the lack of adequate and accessible sexual and reproductive health services .[7]
  • High illiteracy rates among Afro-Colombian and indigenous children[8]
  • Birth registration: an estimated 20 per cent of children born in the State Party are not registered, in particular in remote areas and indigenous, afro-Colombian peoples and internally displaced persons.[9]
  • High rates of malnutrition, particularly among women and children in internally displaced communities[10]
  • Trafficking of children[11]
  • Lack of sufficient protection for children, particularly Afro-Colombian and indigenous children, in the general climate of insecurity and displacement [12]
  • The minimum age for marriage is too low and discriminatory, as it is set at 12 years for girls and 14 years for boys[13]
  • Environmental health problems caused by aerial fumigation of coca plantations[14]
  • High incidence of children victims of extrajudicial killings, homicides and massacres as a consequence of the armed conflict (UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee) High rate of drug use among children[15]
  • The detention of children in facilities which fail to comply with international standards[16]
  • Education - The quality of education remains low in the public system and disadvantages vulnerable groups in society The inclusion of human rights education in school curricula remains insufficient.The recurrent usage of schools by State armed forces and establishment of military bases near schools creates military targets for illegal armed groups, making it impossible for children to receive education; The persistence of hidden costs for administrative fees and costs for uniforms, materials and transport. This is demonstrated in a high and increasing dropout rate among vulnerable groups in society, in particular in rural areas[17]

For more details, go here

Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee
  2. UN Human Rights Committee, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee
  4. UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced people, Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, Universal Periodic Review
  5. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee Against Torture, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced people, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, Universal Periodic Review
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
  7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women – though this doesn't mention children in particular
  8. UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  9. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on Migrant Workers
  10. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people
  11. UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  12. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee against Torture, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination¸ Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Universal Periodic Review
  13. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  14. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people
  15. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  16. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
  17. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education


Introduction

Located at the northern tip of South America, Colombia is the only country on that continent with a coastline on both the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean. Four decades of internal armed conflict fuelled by the drug trade has taken its toll on the country, causing the deaths of at least 200,000 people and giving rise to the world’s second highest internally displaced population. Many of the most serious children’s rights violations relate to the armed conflict, including the recruitment of children to act as soldiers, extrajudicial executions and the enforced disappearance of children.


Geography

Colombia is located at the northern tip of South America, near the equator. It is the only South American country with coastlines on both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean. Its neighbours are Ecuador to the south and Panama to the north; it also shares borders with Peru, Brazil and Venezuela. The country's capital is Bogota; other major cities include Medellin, Cali, Barranquilla and Cartagena. Colombian territory also includes several Caribbean and Pacific islands.

Colombia is one of the world's 17 'mega-diverse' countries with coastline, savanna, rainforest and, along its spine, the Andes mountain range.


People and Language

The population is 45 million, making it the third largest in South America after Brazil and Mexico.

Ethnic groups include mestizo (50 per cent), white (22 per cent), afro-colombian (26 per cent) and Amerindian (two per cent). Colombia has 82 indigenous groups, the largest of which include: the wayuus, the nasa-páez, the pastos, the emberas y the senús, and has 710 reservations, spread throughout the country.[1]

Spanish is the dominant language, but more than 180 indigenous languages are also spoken.[2]


History and Politics

Colombia is a presidential representative democratic republic. The current president is Juan Manuel Santos who was elected to office in 2010.

The internal armed conflict spanning four decades (the longest in Latin America) involving the government, guerrilla groups (mainly the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – FARC) and paramilitaries has taken its toll on the rule of law, economy and development in general. Many of those involved, from left-wing rebels to right-wing paramilitaries are in the pay of drug cartels and landowners who have oftentimes received support from police or army.

Violence has waned since around 2002 during the tenure of Alvaro Uribe, with more than 50,000 paramilitaries and insurgents surrendering their arms since that time. But insurgents and paramilitaries retain strongholds in parts of the countryside and attacks against civilians and human rights workers continue.[3]


Economy

Colombia has the fourth largest economy in Latin America. Improvements in the security situation in recent years have created a sense of confidence in the economy and attracted growing foreign direct investment.

However, it is the sixth most unequal country in the world, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. The country has an abundance of natural resources, including petroleum, natural gas, coal, iron, gold and emeralds. Industries include mining, textiles, hydrocarbons, apparel and agribusiness (cut flowers and coffee), among others. Its principal trading partners are the United States and China, as well as Venezuela until a recent border dispute.

Colombia remains a leading producer of coca leaf, poppy and marijuana plants, and is a major exporter of cocaine and inputs for cocaine and heroine [4]. The US has financed the fight against the drug trade - 'Plan Colombia' - which critics dismiss as failing to tackle the root causes of the drug trade and say has had little impact on supply.


Media and Civil Society

Colombia's global press freedom ranking has dropped 19 places over the last year, with attacks on journalists and allegations of journalists being wire-tapped by officials on the rise. It currently sits at 145 out of 178 in Reporters Without Borders' Press Freedom Index, with one being the most free.

Colombia is also a dangerous place for human rights defenders and trade union leaders who have been persecuted, killed or stigmatised as guerrilla members.


Human Rights and Children's Rights

Concerns have been raised about a spectrum of human rights violations by UN human rights monitors in relation to Colombia. Particularly egregious have been the sweeping evictions of indigenous peoples from their land by all parties to the conflict in which many have been killed as well as the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict.


Footnotes:
  1. Proyecto Latinamérica Wikispaces Colombia: Grupos étnicos
  2. Proyecto Latinamérica Wikispaces [1]
  3. Verdad Abierta.com, "Desmovilización y desarme"
  4. Crisis States Programme "Geografia de los Cultivos Ilicitos y Conflicto Armado en Colombia", Universidad de los Andes, 2004

Sources:


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