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UN Human Rights Council 47th session

Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

1 July 2021

Joint oral statement


Madame President,

Karisma, FLIP, ILEX, CEJIL, IFEX, Derechos Digitales and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) welcome the report on access to justice and its addendum on internet shutdowns.

This session is taking place amid ongoing social protests in Colombia with profuse evidence of public forces abuse and violence.

The Colombian state has imposed restrictions on the right to freedom of assembly in the digital environment or through technological tools. I will present our four main concerns:

  1. The absence of internet connectivity granted by the state to traditionally marginalised communities with a strong participation in the protests adds another layer of exclusion restricting their capacity to express by themselves.

  2. Colombia has developed technological capacity and a legal framework that allow for internet restrictions and the blocking of access to content available about the protests.

  3. Protest is being criminalised. We have identified an official narrative that labels those who use digital tools to support protests as digital vandals that carry out "digital terrorism" activities.

  4. Finally, we draw attention to the role and actions of internet intermediary companies in contexts of social crisis or systematic human rights violations. These companies need to analyse and improve their practices as they are responsible for people’s communications during this delicate exercise of citizenship.

We urge the Council to call on the Colombian state to guarantee, respect and protect the exercise of human rights online and offline in the country. We also highlight the duty of private actors to respect their users’ human rights.