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Afro-Colombian Leaders Decry Threats to Rights and Survival Under Fast Track

-Call for Compliance with Ethnic Chapter, Gender Provisions of Peace Accords-

Bogotá- Afro-Colombian leaders from organizations comprising the Consejo Nacional de Paz Afrocolombiano (CONPA) warn that rights and survival of Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples are threatened by fast track formulation of the legal framework to implement Colombia’s Peace Accords. The leaders, meeting in Bogotá this week, also call for full compliance with the Ethnic Chapter of the Peace Accords and for meaningful participation of Afro-Colombian and Indigenous women in the implementation process. 

The special legislative process known in Colombia as “fast track,” reduces the time period in which the government can pass laws related to implementing the peace accords. Various Colombian civil society organizations have critiqued certain applications of fast track, particularly where the government has failed to adhere to consultation processes required under Colombia’s Constitution, as well as under the Ethnic Chapter of the Peace Accords—a chapter designed to ensure that implementation of the peace agreements respects and promotes the rights of Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Peoples, with specific emphasis on furthering women’s rights. 

In a convergence this week organized by Procesos de Comunidades Negras (PCN) and MADRE, an international women’s human rights organization, Afro-Colombian activists and leaders will discuss strategies for ensuring implementation of the Ethnic Chapter of the Peace Accords. 

“Meaningful peace in Colombia requires the promotion, respect, and protection of the rights and territories of Afro-descendant and Indigenous Peoples,” said Charo Mina-Rojas of PCN. “The Ethnic Chapter of the Peace Accords guarantees our rights. Fast track represents a regression that is unconstitutional and that we cannot permit.”

Colombia’s Constitution and the Ethnic Chapter of the Peace Accords both require free, prior and informed consent by Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Peoples regarding laws and development that impact their rights and territories. Advocates point out, however, that extractive industries and other interests often fail to obtain true “informed consent” for projects that dramatically impact the wellbeing of surrounding communities. PCN is concerned that the proposed laws and decrees aimed at realizing Point 1 of the Accords regarding rural development, as well as other laws that will move through fast track, could further undermine their ability to protect their land and rights, which would ultimately impair their survival as peoples.

“Around the world, peace agreements are strongest when they uphold the rights of women and historically marginalized communities, and include their meaningful participation,” said Lisa Davis of MADRE. “The Ethnic Chapter of the Colombian Peace Accords is an important step towards furthering human rights protections in Colombia, but only if it is actually implemented, and in close collaboration with Afro-Colombian and Indigenous women.”