Parliamentarians and Representatives of Civil Society in Colombia Work Together to Achieve Ratification of the Inter-American Convention against Racism

Colombia 1The filing of the bill for the ratification of CIRDI in COLOMBIA represents an important step forward in the strengthening of the regulatory instruments for the protection of ethnic communities before racist and discriminatory practices in the country. 

Bogota, January 25, 2022. – Before filing the bill for the ratification of the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Discrimination and other Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI) in Colombia, the International Institute of Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) spoke with parliamentarians and representatives of the civil society over the next steps to be taken in the short term for the Convention to become law in the country and its impact on the protection of the different ethnic groups in the national territory. 

The bill was filed in Congress on December 16 of 2021 after a political debate organized by House Representative Jhon Arley Murillo and Senator Victoria Sandino, in which they called Vice President and Foreign Minister Marta Lucía Ramírez to account for the actions for the ratification of CIRDI in Colombia. It should be noted that this political debate was a commitment made by the parliamentarians at the launching event of the CIRDI 2024 campaign “Towards a Region Free of Racial Discrimination”, promoted by Race and Equality. Now, parliamentarians and civil society must follow up on the project so that it becomes a law of the Republic and, once the Convention is ratified, its implementation process begins. 

House Representative Jhon described the filing of the bill as “an important advancement for the struggles of the Afro-descendant communities from all backgrounds, because in order to achieve progress in the country it is necessary to bet on instruments that provide real guarantees of equality and equity in Colombia”. He also stressed that this achievement would not have been possible without the union of civil society, political sectors, academics, among others, with whom he coordinated with in the search for concrete statistics that demonstrate the affectation that the Afro-descendant communities in Colombia are going through today. 

“Colombia stands out in the region. There are countries where the communities are completely invisible, at least in the constitutional postulates. I am part of a group of Afro-parliamentarians from the Americas and the Caribbean. A few months ago, I was in Uruguay and I listened to my colleagues who were discussing which steps to take so that the State would recognize the presence of Afros in their countries. In Colombia’s case, we are several steps ahead in relation to other countries in the region and even with some countries, such as the Dominican Republic, where today they do not identify the Afro-descendant population. With the ratification of CIRDI, we are at a crucial moment for the country in terms of inclusion that we cannot let pass”, the Representative said to the Chamber.

Senator Victoria Sandino also welcomed the filing of the bill and called on civil society organizations to follow up on it, and stressed the need to continue working with parliamentarians, civil society, the media, among other sectors, to achieve the appropriation of this tool. Senator Sandino also referred to the cases of racism that are evident in Colombia, referring to the situation of racism denounced by the Afro-descendant businessman Luc Gerarard, president of the Tribeca Investment Fund, after he and his family were denied entry to a restaurant in the city of Cartagena at the beginning of January 2022. 

“What happens to the ordinary citizen who is repeatedly discriminated against and racialized? This cannot continue to happen, that is why we must work so that the contents of CIRDI become laws that allow us to eradicate the practices of racism and racial discrimination”, said the Senator. 

The Afro-descendant leader and Vice-President of the National Association of Displaced Afro-Colombians (AFRODES), Erlendy Cuero, reiterated her interest in continuing to work in coordination with other organizations of ethnic groups and human rights defenders to achieve the ratification of CIRDI in Colombia. In this sense, she indicated, “As black people, we have been working hand in hand with the indigenous communities seeking conditions of dignity for the populations living in the territories and in the depressed areas of the cities, for example, with the Ethnic Chapter of the Peace Agreement, we have worked on joint issues. The work for the ratification of CIRDI must of course continue to be a collective work considering our particularities, with the ratification and implementation of the Convention, we would have more tools to achieve conditions of dignity and equality for our people”. 

Dayana Blanco, director of Ilex Legal Action, who also welcomed the filing of the bill, pointed out that the organization she directs has always promoted actions for the eradication of racism and racial discrimination and is committed to exhaustively follow up the bill, deepening its guidelines until it becomes part of the country’s legislation. 

Race and Equality will continue to work closely with parliamentarians, members of civil society, and leaders in Colombia to achieve the ratification and implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI).