Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF


Tuesday, 23 April 2013 (Afternoon)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is intended for use of the information media and is not an official record. The note provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review and does not cover all points addressed. An official summary of the meeting can be found in the Working Group report.)

State under review

Represented by 35-member delegation headed by Mr. Angelino Garzón, Vice President.


To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the Colombia page on the UPR website.

Troika *

Gabon, India, Ecuador.

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on the Colombia page on the UPR Extranet)

  • Upon assuming his office in August 201, President Santos of Colombia promoted the adoption of a law on compensation to victims of the armed conflict and restitution of land to displaced population and, in fulfillment of the mandate of the national constitution, began a dialogue with the FARC aimed towards signing a peace agreement;
  • The Government and the FARC had a duty to the people to cease all criminal and violent actions against civilians, to end the forced recruitment of children and adolescents, to no longer lay personal landmines, and give land to compensate the victims of violence as a basis for a process of forgiveness and reconciliation in Colombia.
  • Colombia has made progress in furthering protection mechanisms for human rights defenders, trade union leaders, and other social organizations, including victims of the armed conflict, as well as in assisting vulnerable groups;
  • The Government recognized that it still had to overcome tremendous challenges, in particular those related to the fight against members of illegal armed groups and guerrillas, criminal gangs, drug traffickers and common criminals;
  • Last December there was a successful conference on human rights held in the country and in September the fourth meeting on human rights training will be held, and a national seminar on free trade and human rights the following month;  
  • Among other challenges which remains are those related to a lack of social equity, levels of impunity, prison overcrowding, the need for greater protection for human rights defenders and trade unionists, and the signing of a peace agreement;
  • The head of delegation noted that his government decided to extend for three years the mandate of OHCHR in Colombia;
  • Another member of the delegation noted that Colombia was in a totally different situation today as it was in 2008 when the last UPR of Colombia took place;
  • Among other things, there had been a renewed dialogue with civil society organizations, there was a substantial reduction of homicides and attempts on people’s lives in the country, and there has also been progress in the rights of indigenous people;
  • There has been a series of decrees and laws on the restitution of land for victims of the armed conflict; the Government also passed the law on Victims and Land Restitution;
  • Other areas of notable achievement pertain to the strengthening of the judiciary; an increasing number of criminals being brought to justice; and a reduction in the rate of murder rate by half and kidnapping rates by 95%;
  • The alleviation of prison overcrowding was a priority of the Government; the plan was to augment the capacity of prisons with the next four years by up to 40%.


In total 76 States participated in the dialogue:  28 HRC members and 38 observers  (Statements available on Colombia page on the UPR Extranet).

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • The Government’s commitment to the peace process and the peace talks;
  • Legislatives initiatives in the area of human rights;
  • The enactment of the National Development Plan: Prosperity for All;
  • The law on Victims and Land Restitution;
  • The establishment of the National Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law System;
  • The commitment of the Government to extend the mandate of the OHCHR in the country.

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • Efforts to combat impunity and to uphold the independence of the judiciary;
  • Actions to address crimes committed during the armed conflict;
  • Steps taken to rehabilitate child victims of the armed conflict and to address cases of child soldiers;
  • Efforts in addressing violence against women and to combat human trafficking;
  • Measures taken to protect human rights defenders;
  • Policies to address the rights of vulnerable groups, in particular indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombians.


States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Colombia.  These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • Reinforce efforts to end impunity for human rights violations, including those perpetrated by high ranking military officers and to ensure that the military justice system was fully compliant with international human rights law;
  • To develop at the regional level State institutions tasked with reconstructing historic memory with regard to the armed conflict;
  • To amend the Criminal Code so that crimes against humanity and all war crimes were defined as crimes under national law;
  • To take measures to address claims of continuing extrajudicial killings; To include human rights training for law enforcement personnel;
  • To ensure the independence of the judiciary;
  • To strengthen measures to rehabilitate children victims of the armed conflict and to investigate all cases of illegal recruitment of children in armed groups;
  • To increase efforts in addressing violence against women, including in access to justice, medical care for victims, social reintegration and combatting related impunity for such acts; to invite the Special Rapporteur on violence against women;
  • To step up efforts to combat human trafficking vis-à-vis the new National Strategy to Combat Trafficking in Persons 2013-2018; 
  • To ensure appropriate protection of human rights defenders operating in the country and to increase efforts to investigate and prosecute those responsible for threat or violence against human rights defenders;
  • To introduce stronger measures to protect indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombians from attacks against armed groups; to implement the law on Victims and Land Restitution in a just manner;
  • To intensify efforts aimed at providing access of all children to free and compulsory primary education;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments:  OP to the ICESCR, the 3rd OP to the CRC, and the OPCAT. 

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Colombia is scheduled to take place on Friday, 26 April 2013.

The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR. 

Media contact: Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, rgomez@ohchr.org