N° 35/ 00
On May 4, 1992,
the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “the Commission”)
received a petition from the Colectivo de
Abogados José Alvear Restrepo (hereinafter “the petitioners”) against
the Republic of Colombia (hereinafter “the State,” “the Colombian
State,” or “Colombia”), alleging the extrajudicial executions of Alfonso
Chilito, José Belisario Dorado Muñoz, Saúl Espinosa, Pastora García, Wilson
Gil Velásquez, Hoibar Gómez Mamian, Rubén Darío Joaquín Narváez, Santiago
Lasso Bolaños, Adriana López, Hernán Mamian Moreno, Leoncio Mellizo Angulo,
Libardo Nieves Dorado, Yenny Prieto Rengifo, Hernando Rosero, Adán Ruano Daza,
Alejandro Salazar Paz, and Henry Suárez Villa (hereinafter “the victims”)
by members of the national army on April 7, 1991, in Los Uvos township, in the
department of Cauca.
The petitioners allege that the State is responsible for violating the
right to life (Article 4), the right to humane treatment (Article 5), the right
to personal liberty (Article 7) in connection with Article 1(1), the right to a
fair trial (Article 8), and the right to judicial protection (Article 25), as
set forth in the American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter “the
Convention” or “the American Convention”). They also allege that Articles
I, XVIII, and XXVI of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man
(hereinafter “the American Declaration”) were violated.
During the processing of this case, the State accepted its responsibility
for the incidents alleged by the petitioners.
On September 7, 1995, during the Commission’s 90th session, the parties
decided to attempt to reach a friendly settlement of the matter. However,
despite the efforts of both the State and the petitioners, on October 5, 1998,
they agreed to terminate the friendly settlement process, recognizing the
partial implementation of a number of agreements and recommendations reached
during the negotiations.
After analyzing the arguments of fact and law submitted by the parties
during the processing of the case and the partial results of their efforts to
settle the matter on a friendly basis, the Commission declared the case
admissible, issued conclusions regarding the violations of Articles 4, 5, 7, 8,
25, and 1 (1) of the American Convention in light of the State’s acceptance of
its responsibility, and assessed the extent to which the State had complied with
the commitments made regarding the reparations.
PROCESSING BY THE COMMISSION
On June 17, 1992, the Commission opened this case under N° 11.020, and
transmitted the relevant parts of the complaint to the Colombian State, giving
it a period of 90 days to submit information. On March 17, 1993, the petitioners
presented additional information regarding the case, which was duly sent to the
The State submitted its reply on July 7, 1993. The petitioners presented
their comments on September 7, 1993. The State submitted additional information
on September 27, 1993. The Commission transmitted to the State the additional
information provided by the petitioners on September 28, 1993. On November 25,
1993, the State requested a 45-day extension, which was granted on December 3,
1993. On December 29, 1993 and
March 7, 1994, the State presented its comments, which were then duly
transmitted to the petitioners.
On January 17, 1994, during its 85th regular session, the Commission held
a hearing on this case. On April 19, 1994, the petitioners sent additional
information regarding the status of the criminal and disciplinary proceedings.
On May 25, 1994, the State submitted information on the status of the
proceedings. The petitioners
submitted their comments on July 26, 1994, and in a later document, dated August
1, 1994, they sent additional information. The State presented its comments on
August 31, 1994. On September 26, 1994, during its 87th regular session, the
Commission held another hearing on this case. The petitioners submitted their
comments on October 19, 1994.
On September 7, 1995, during the Commission’s 90th session, the State
and the petitioners held a meeting regarding cases 11.141, 11.101. 11.020, and
11.007. On that occasion, they stated their intent to begin working toward a
friendly settlement, pursuant to Article 48(f) of the American Convention. By
mutual consent, the parties issued a document of understanding creating a
committee charged with promoting justice in these cases. On December 12, 1995, a
Commission delegation attended a meeting of the Justice Promotion Committee
(hereinafter Comité de Impulso) in
Colombia in order to learn about its operation and progress.
The Comité de Impulso created
by the parties released its final report on February 23, 1996, at a meeting held
during the Commission’s 91st regular session. This report contained a series
of recommendations regarding the case at hand and other general issues. At this
meeting, the parties agreed to continue with the friendly settlement proceedings
through the creation of a Follow-up Committee (hereinafter Comité
de Seguimiento) to monitor the Comité
de Impulso’s recommendations.
On October 8, 1996, during its 93rd regular session, the Commission
assessed the progress made toward a friendly settlement. On October 9, 1996, the
State submitted a document titled “Report on the Implementation of the
Recommendations in the Los Uvos, Caloto, and Villatina Cases.” On October 18,
1996, the Commission urged the parties to overcome the problems encountered in
following up on the Committee’s recommendations. In February 1997,
Commissioner Robert K. Goldman, the Rapporteur for Colombia, Ambassador Jorge E.
Taiana, the Commission’s Executive Secretary, and Denise Gilman, then a
Commission Specialist, visited Colombia in order to attend a series of meetings
regarding the friendly settlement procedure.
On October 7, 1997, at a hearing held during the Commission’s 97th
session, the Comité de Seguimiento
presented a report assessing compliance with the Comité
de Impulso’s recommendations. In a Resolution dated October 16, 1997, the
Commission agreed to continue working toward a friendly settlement in this case
until its 98th session.
At a hearing held on February 23, 1998, during the Commission’s 98th
session, the parties stated their intent to end the friendly settlement
proceedings and asked the Commission to give a ruling on the merits of the case.
On March 3, 1998, the Commission asked the Colombian State for additional
information on the status of the domestic criminal proceedings and on the steps
taken to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators through the regular criminal
courts. On April 20, 1998, the State requested a 30-day extension, which was
granted on April 27. On July 31, 1998, the State sent to the Commission a copy
of the speech given by the President of the Republic in which he accepted
responsibility for the events of the Los Uvos case and other incidents. On
October 5, 1998, at the Commission’s 100th regular session, a further hearing
was held at which the parties again stated that a friendly settlement could not
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES AND ATTEMPT TO REACH A FRIENDLY SETTLEMENT
Position of the petitioners
The petitioners allege that on April 7, 1991, members of Eagle Two
Platoon, of Company A, Infantry Battalion Nº 7 “José Hilario López” of
the Colombian army, under the command of 2nd Lt. José Edilberto Cortés Valero,
together with another eight soldiers and two civilians, intercepted a rural bus
(of the type known locally as chivas)
at a checkpoint located at Puente Fierro, between Los Uvos township in La Vega
municipality and the municipality of Piedrasentada, in Cauca department. The
vehicle was carrying 15 people: Alfonso Chilito (aged 25), José Belisario
Dorado Muñoz (41), Saúl Espinosa (42), Wilson Gil Velásquez (17), Hoibar Gómez
Mamian (18), Rubén Darío Joaquín Narváez (32), Santiago Lasso Bolaños (28),
Adriana López (18), Hernán Mamian Moreno (31), Leoncio Mellizo Angulo (50),
Libardo Nieves Dorado (24), Yenny Prieto Rengifo (28), Hernando Rosero (42), Adán
Ruano Daza (55), and Alejandro Salazar Paz (22). The petitioners allege that the
State agents boarded the vehicle and forced the driver to return to the
Monterredondo road. Once there, after a half-hour’s journey, the passengers
were made to alight. They were then relieved of their belongings, forced to lie
face-down on the road, and then extrajudicially executed with army-issue rifles.
Pastora García (aged 42) and Henry Suárez Villa (37), who happened to be
passing by on a motorcycle, were intercepted and killed in the same fashion.
The petitioners allege that the army patrol painted slogans referring to
the Simón Bolívar Guerrilla Coordination unit at the scene of the crime. They
also state that in an attempt to obstruct the judicial investigation and escape
punishment, Maj. Manuel Rodríguez Diazgranados, the commanding officer of the
rearguard command post of Battalion Nº 7 “José Hilario López”, told the
Cali Directorate of Public Order that members of the XXIX front of the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) had perpetrated the multiple
murders and damage to property.
The petitioners allege that there were numerous irregularities in the
State agencies’ investigation of the facts and prosecution of those
responsible. Specifically, they
maintain that the Cali Regional Prosecutor’s Office acted too slowly in
investigating the incident and only established a link between it and members of
the “José Hilario López” Battalion two years after it had occurred. The
Public Order Court that began the investigation referred the case to the
military criminal justice system, in spite of the gravity of the acts. The
petitioners also claim that members of the army gave false statements, made
false and contradictory allegations, and used false witnesses. They maintain
that there were unjustifiable delays in serving the arrest warrants and that,
contrary to the regulations, Lt. Cortés Valero was held at military facilities,
from which he escaped.
Based on this, they claim that the State violated the aforesaid
victims’ right to life (Article 4), right to humane treatment (Article 5),
right of personal liberty (Article 7), right to a fair trial (Article 8), and
right to judicial protection (Article 25) in connection with Article 1(1) of the
American Convention, together with the provisions of Articles I (right to life),
XVIII (right to a fair trial), and XXVI (right to due process) of the
Regarding the admissibility of this case, they allege that the
unwarranted delay in prosecuting and punishing the perpetrators, in spite of the
extensive evidence allegedly incriminating State agents, relieves them of the
need to exhaust the available domestic remedies. They hold that the domestic
remedies have been ineffective.
Position of the State
During the initial stages of the proceedings, the State did not question
the version of events submitted by the petitioners. Regarding the alleged
violations of the American Convention and Declaration, the State provided
information on the status of the many trials conducted through the domestic
courts, and it claimed that the decision of the Office of the Delegate
Procurator for Human Rights to punish certain members of the armed forces with
dismissal had been taken without unwarranted delay.
Subsequently, in light of the decisions handed down by the criminal and
administrative courts and the conclusions reached by the Comité de Seguimiento created during the attempted friendly
settlement procedure, the State accepted its international responsibility in
Specifically, on July 29, 1998, the President of the Republic accepted the
Colombian State’s responsibility for the actions or omissions of public
employees in the violent incident that occurred at Los Uvos.
The parties’ efforts to reach a friendly settlement of the case
Creation and work of the Comité de
On September 7, 1995, during the Commission’s 90th session, Dr. Carlos
Vicente de Roux, representing the State, and María Victoria Fallón, Gustavo
Gallón Giraldo, and Juan Carlos Gutiérrez, representing the petitioners in a
number of cases being processed by the Commission, met in order to attempt to
reach a friendly settlement of a number of those cases, including Nº 11.020, in
accordance with Article 48(f) of the American Convention. The parties agreed to
issue a memorandum of understanding that ordered the creation of a Comité de Impulso.
The Comité de Impulso was
defined as a body for promoting domestic judicial proceedings, which precluded
it from receiving and directly assessing evidence or ruling on the
responsibilities of individuals and institutions. The Committee’s mandate was
the following: (1) work for the enforcement of judicial and disciplinary
measures to guarantee prompt judicial proceedings; (2) identify evidence
regarding the incidents in question and work for them to be brought before the
courts; (3) promote the protection of witnesses and, if appropriate, of the
judicial and disciplinary officials conducting the investigations; (4) support
both the due exercise of the right of defense of the accused and of the rights
and activities of the civil party; (5) when so required by the investigation,
work for the reassignment of trials and the creation of special units of the
Prosecutors’ Offices and the Technical Investigation Corps; (6) work for the
reparation of the damage caused by the acts in question; (7) present a report to
the next regular session of the IACHR regarding performance of the tasks listed
in the above points and the results of the steps taken, indicating the factors
that, in its view, influenced their success or failure.”
The committee’s membership included representatives of the victims in a number
of cases being processed by the Commission: in the Los Uvos case, the José
Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective and the Colombian Section of the Andean
Commission of Jurists; representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Relations, the
Ministry of National Defense, and the Office of the Presidential Advisor on
Human Rights; representatives of the Office of the People’s Defender, the
Department of Public Prosecutions, and the National Attorney General’s Office,
representing the agencies of State control; and representatives of the Colombian
The Comité de Impulso was
formally established on September 29, 1995, at a public ceremony in the city of
Bogotá, and it submitted its final report in February 1996 during the
Commission’s 91st regular session. The report contains recommendations on
general issues and on each of the cases the Committee studied. Specifically, it
Committee as a whole has noted that, theoretically, comprehensive reparations
for the victims of serious human rights violations should involve the following:
(1) Prevention of the violations; investigation of the facts; identification,
prosecution, and punishment of the perpetrators. (2) Restoration, if possible,
of the violated right. (3) Compensation for the victims in the broadest sense,
to make amends for both material and moral damages. (4) Reparation of the impact
of the violation on the victims’ communities, through economic, social, and
Given the consensus regarding the importance of the Comité de Impulso’s work, the Commission will keep its
conclusions and recommendations in mind throughout the present analysis.
recommendations for the case at hand refer to the promotional measures to be
implemented in the criminal, disciplinary and administrative proceedings in
order to determine the corresponding responsibilities. The Comité
de Impulso recommended that the State acknowledge its responsibility before
It also agreed on the need to implement a series of social reparation measures
through the Office of the Presidential Advisor on Human Rights.
Creation and work of the Comité de
Seguimiento on the Comité de Impulso’s
In February 1996, during the Commission’s 91st regular session, the
parties agreed to create a Comité de
Seguimiento on the Comité de Impulso’s
recommendations. The Comité de
Seguimiento’s mandate was the following: (a) to seek out, collect,
centralize, and transmit to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
information on the promotional measures adopted [...]; (b) to submit regular
reports to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the performance of
its duties and the results thereof; (c) to report to the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights, when necessary, on the obstacles encountered in the
performance of its duties; (d) to submit a report to the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights at its next regular session regarding its performance
of its assigned duties and on the results of the steps taken, indicating the
factors that, in the Committee’s opinion, influenced their success or failure.
The Comité de Seguimiento
presented its assessment of compliance with the Comité
de Impulso’s recommendations on October 7, 1997,
during the Commission’s 97th regular session. Regarding the Los Uvos case, the
Comité de Seguimiento recognized that
the State had complied with its commitment to acknowledge its international
regards the other commitments, the Committee recommended that the friendly
settlement proceedings should continue in connection with recommendations being
implemented or awaiting additional administrative steps. It recommended
“formulating or implementing, as appropriate, the pending social compensation
projects for attending to the displaced families and individuals, health,
education, electric power, the Piedrasentada – Los Uvos road, and job
creation.” In order to monitor compliance with this recommendation, it was
agreed to extend the Comité de
Seguimiento’s mandate until the Commission’s 98th regular session.
On October 16, 1997, the Commission issued a resolution recognizing the
parties’ efforts to reach a friendly settlement in this case and expressing
its appreciation of the State’s decision to accept its international
responsibility. The Commission also recommended that in compliance with Law 288,
the State should give monetary compensation to the victims’ relatives who had
not yet received indemnification. It also decided to continue with the friendly
settlement procedure until the following regular session, after which it would
take a decision regarding the final measures to be adopted in this case and, to
this end, it asked the parties to submit additional information on the progress
Breakdown of the friendly settlement process and extent of compliance
with Commitments made
Since a friendly settlement could not be reached within the allotted time
frames, on October 5, 1998, at the hearing held during the Commission’s 100th
regular session, the friendly settlement procedure was terminated.
The parties asked the Commission to rule on the merits of the case,
giving due consideration to the fact that the recommendations made by the
committees set up by the friendly settlement process had been partially
implemented and to the fact that the victims’ relatives who had not yet
received compensation had been granted access to the mechanism set forth in Law
On March 2, 1999, at a hearing held during the Commission’s 102nd
session, the petitioners reported that the regular criminal courts had sentenced
2nd Lt. Cortés Valero but that he had escaped from the military garrison where
he was being held. In addition, they said that Corporal Mora Parra had also been
convicted but had never been arrested, and that only some of the convicted
soldiers were serving sentences. They also reported that Col. Briceño Lovera
was being tried by the military criminal justice system and that a decision had
not yet been reached regarding the conflict of jurisdictions in the trial of
Major Saavedra Padilla. Regarding the disciplinary proceedings, they reported
that the army officers and NCOs involved had been punished. As for the monetary
compensation owed to the victims’ families, they reported that reparations had
been made to some families through administrative proceedings. The social
reparations commitments, the petitioners said, were still being implemented. The
State itself acknowledged that some commitments were still being implemented or
were pending implementation.
ANALYSIS OF COMPETENCE AND ADMISSIBILITY
The Commission is, prima facie,
competent to examine the petitioners’ claims.
The incidents described in the petition occurred when the obligation of
respecting and guaranteeing the rights set forth in the Convention was in force
for the Colombian State. The
Commission will therefore proceed to analyze whether the case at hand satisfies
the requirements contained in Articles 46 and 47 of the American Convention.
Requirements for admissibility
Exhaustion of domestic remedies and deadline for lodging a petition
The rule requiring the prior exhaustion of domestic remedies was
established in the interests of the State and for its benefit; it can therefore
be tacitly waived.
In this case the State has made no objections to the petitioners’ stance that
the exceptions to the rule requiring the exhaustion of domestic remedies should
be applied. In addition, the State has expressly recognized its responsibility
in the facts of this case.
Compliance with the requirement for the petition to be presented within a
period of six months following notification of the domestic courts’ final
judgment is dependent on the exhaustion of domestic remedies and is therefore
not applicable in the case at hand.
Duplication of proceedings and res
The case file does not indicate that the subject of this petition is
pending in any other international proceeding for settlement or that it is
substantially the same as one previously studied by this or any other
international organization. Thus, the requirements set forth in Articles
46(1)(c) and 47(d) of the Convention have been satisfied.
Nature of the alleged incidents
The Commission believes that the petitioners’ claims regarding the
alleged violation of the right to life, to humane treatment, and to personal
liberty, in conjunction with the delay in the investigation and the failure to
effectively prosecute and punish the guilty, could constitute a violation of the
rights set forth in Articles 4, 5, 7, 8, 25, and 1(1) of the American
Convention. Since they are not manifestly groundless or obviously out of order,
particularly since the State has expressly acknowledged its responsibility, the
Commission believes that the requirements established in Article 47(b) and (c)
of the American Convention have been satisfied.
Conclusions on competence and admissibility
The Commission believes it has jurisdiction to examine the merits of the
present petition and that, in principle, it is admissible according to the
requirements contained in Articles 46 and 47 of the American Convention.
ANALYSIS OF THE MERITS IN LIGHT OF THE ACCEPTANCE OF RESPONSIBILITY BY
Before analyzing the merits of the case, the issue of the alleged
application of the standards of the American Declaration in this case should be
addressed. The American Convention came into force for Colombia on July 18,
1978. Since then, the Convention and not the Declaration has been the
Commission’s source of applicable law, provided that the petitions dealt with
alleged violations of rights that were substantially the same in both
instruments and did not involve a situation of continuous violation.
In this case, the rights covered by the Declaration that the Colombian State
allegedly violated are also protected by the Convention, and the incident that
led to the petitioners’ complaint occurred after Colombia’s acceptance of
the American Convention. Hence, the Commission will address only the alleged
violations of the latter treaty and not of the Declaration.
The right to life, liberty, and humane treatment
The petitioners claim that agents of the State deprived the victims of
their freedom, treated them inhumanely, and executed them extrajudicially. Then,
in light of the criminal judgments, the administrative conciliations, and the
factual conclusions reached during the attempts to reach a friendly settlement,
the State accepted its international responsibility for the violations committed
in this case and, to this end, issued a formal acknowledgement thereof.
Based on the above legal and factual considerations and the State’s
acceptance of its responsibility, the Commission concludes that on April 7,
1991, on the Los Uvos road in Cauca department, agents of the Colombian national
army arbitrarily deprived Alfonso Chilito, José Belisario Dorado Muñoz, Saúl
Espinosa, Wilson Gil Velásquez, Hoibar Gómez Mamian, Rubén Darío Joaquín
Narváez, Santiago Lasso Bolaños, Adriana López, Hernán Mamian Moreno,
Leoncio Mellizo Angulo, Libardo Nieves Dorado, Yenny Prieto Rengifo, Hernando
Rosero, Adán Ruano Daza, and Alejandro Salazar of their liberty, in violation
of Article 7 of the American Convention. They held them in circumstances that
affronted the right of freedom from inhumane treatment set forth in Article
5(2), and they deprived them, Pastora García, and Henry Suárez Villa of their
lives in violation of the right enshrined in Article 4(1) of the Convention.
The right to judicial protection and the State’s obligation to respect
and ensure the rights protected by the Convention
The petitioners allege that the State has not duly complied with its
obligation of investigating the facts of this case and punishing the guilty
pursuant to Articles 8 and 25 of the American Convention in conjunction with
Article 1(1) thereof. The State took a series of steps aimed at establishing the
facts and compensating the victims’ families within the negotiations toward a
friendly settlement in this matter. The Commission must determine whether
guarantees established in the Convention were really violated and whether the
State has made due amends for those violations.
Issues of fact
As indicated by the information provided by the parties and by the
Committees set up during the friendly settlement process, the investigation and
criminal trial involved many different proceedings and conflicts of competence
between the civilian courts and the military criminal justice system.
Additionally, disciplinary proceedings were launched in connection with both the
massacre and the irregularities committed in the investigation, and the results
of these were only partially consistent with those of the military courts. The
following is a description of the proceedings and of the administrative suits
filed by the victims’ families, according to information received from the
Investigation and prosecution of the allegedly responsible
On July 18, 1991, the Section Subdirectorate of the Judicial Police
Technical Corps sent the Section Director for Public Order a complaint filed by
Juan Carlos Córdoba, a deserter from the army.
The Public Order Judge, by means of a document dated August 6, 1991, then
opened an investigation by ordering the investigation, inter
alia, of Lt. José Edilberto Cortés Valero and Cpl. Pedro López Gamboa.
This was carried out by the 14th Criminal Preparatory Court of Cauca, based in
Popayán. On September 2, 1991, the investigation was referred to the commanding
officer of Infantry Battalion Nº 7 “José Hilario López” on account of
issues of functional and territorial jurisdiction. On June 27, 1991, the 19th
Military Criminal Court took over the investigation. On May 29, 1992, the Third
Brigade filed a negative conflict of competence alleging that it was incumbent
upon the civilian courts to continue the investigation since, in its opinion,
there was no evidence to tie members of the army on active service to the
incident. In light of this military ruling, the Superior Court of the Judicature
referred the investigation to civilian jurisdiction in October 1992.
By means of Resolution 255 of May 25, 1993, the Regional Directorate of
Prosecutors’ Offices embarked on an investigation based on evidence collected
by the Office of the National Attorney General and on new evidence it gathered.
In July 1993 a warrant was issued for the preventive arrest of Lt. Cortés
Valero for multiple homicide, arson, destroying public documents, theft, and
violations of Decree 3664 of 1986. Similarly, warrants for the arrest of other
army members were issued on suspicion of their involvement in the incident. In
August 1993, two civilians were also subpoenaed. In April 1994, the Regional
Prosecutor’s Office judged the merits of the summary proceedings begun against
some of the soldiers under investigation. In June 1995, the accusatory
resolution was upheld. On November 25, 1996, the regional court in Cali handed
down a first-instance conviction against 2nd Lt. José Edilberto Cortés Valero
as the instigator, against soldiers John Jairo Castillo Vélez and Wilson
Certuche Hernández as joint perpetrators, and against soldier Luis Edgar
Enrique Ledesma as an accomplice.
On December 12, 1996, the Third Brigade in Cali filed a conflict of
competence in favor of José Edilberto Cortés Valero, Gustavo Mora Parra,
Miguel Angel Gil Orozco, José A. Cañón González, and Pedro López Gamboa.
The Superior Council of the Judicature upheld the competence of the civilian
courts. The trial of Cpl. José Gustavo Mora Parra was referred to the regional
judges in Cali on April 28, 1997. In the cases of Miguel Angel Gil Orozco, José
A. Cañón González, and Pedro López Gamboa, the National Unit of Human Rights
Prosecutors continued with the investigation, which was recorded as Nº 220.
This decision was appealed and resolved, upholding the competence of the
civilian courts. On March 21, 1997, the proceedings initiated against the
civilians Asmed Ordóñez Burbano and Juan Carlos Muñoz were referred to the
regional judges in Cali.
At the hearing held during the Commission’s 102nd session, the
petitioners reported that only some of the convicted soldiers were serving
sentences. Although he was tried by the regional courts, Lt. Cortés Valero was
placed in preventive custody at the facilities of the Bolívar Battalion, from
which he subsequently escaped. Final decisions were still pending in the trial
of Cpl. Mora Parra, who was never arrested, and in those of the civilians Asmed
Ordóñez Burbano and Juan Carlos Muñoz.
Regarding those who planned the violations, on August 6, 1991, the
preparatory court in Cali filed charges against César Augusto Saavedra Padilla,
who was serving as operations officer and commanding officer of the command
post. On December 10, 1993, after the investigation had been conducted, the Cali
Regional Prosecutor decided to impose preventive cautionary measures on account
of his suspected involvement in the crime of concealment.
On March 17, 1995, an arrest warrant was issued for the crime of multiple
aggravated homicide, supposedly for having given orders to his subordinates and
the two civilians involved to carry out the killings. This warrant was served on
March 25, 1995. On October 22, 1996, the Third Brigade in Cali filed a conflict
of competence regarding his legal situation. On March 6, 1997, the Superior
Council of the Judicature resolved the conflict in favor of the military courts
and, on April 21, the proceedings were referred to military justice. Following
these conflicts of competence the unity of the proceedings broke down, with a
separate trial being convened for the same events as well as for the illegal
supply of uniforms and restricted weapons and for concealment against Pablo
Briceño Lovera and César Augusto Saavedra Padilla. This trial dealt with the
ties between these members of the army and the civilians who participated in the
On August 3, 1998, the first instance military criminal judge, Maj. Jaime
Ernesto Canal Albán of the Third Brigade, ruled on the merits of the summary
proceedings against Lt. Col. César Augusto Saavedra Padilla (ret.) for multiple
homicide. The judge resolved to terminate all the proceedings and to revoke the
cautionary measure placed on him by the Cali regional prosecutor.
With regard to the ties between these members of the army and the
civilians who participated in the killings, on February 25, 1998, the Court
Martial President acquitted Lt. Col. Pablo Briceño Lovera and Lt. Col. César
Augusto Saavedra Padilla of the crime of fabrication and supplying restricted
arms and munitions and ordered all proceedings against them to be stopped.
The Commission notes that this decision was upheld on April 19, 1999, on
an appeal filed by the civil party.
The Comité de Impulso and the Comité
de Seguimiento for the Comité de
Impulso’s recommendations, created as a part of the attempt to reach a
friendly settlement in this case, recommended a series of measures to satisfy
the right of judicial protection in it. They recommended, first, that the
prosecutor in charge closely investigate the alleged participation of Lt. Col.
Pablo Alfonso Briceño Lovera in the incident. With regard to this point, the Comité
de Seguimiento’s report notes that this recommendation was not implemented
because the Prosecutor’s Office had lost its competence over the case.
Second, they recommended investigating the possible responsibility in the
crime of concealment of Gen. Víctor Arévalo Pinilla (ret.). This
recommendation was not implemented. Third, they recommended that warrants for
the arrest of the civilians who participated in the incident should be reissued
and that the truthfulness of the statements made by the inhabitants of Los Uvos
regarding the presence of the two civilians with the assent of the police and
the army should be established. This recommendation was implemented.
The Committee also recommended launching a preliminary investigation into
the alleged attempted murder of soldier Juan Carlos Córdoba. The Comité
de Seguimiento’s report states that this recommendation was waiting for
additional steps to be taken in order for the investigation to begin.
Disciplinary process relating to the massacre and the acts of cover up by
On April 12, 1991, the National Attorney General launched an
investigation based on the complaint regarding multiple homicide and criminal
damage filed by Maj. Manuel Rodríguez Diazgranados against the Revolutionary
Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The Office of Special Investigations at the
Attorney General’s Office completed the investigation in March 1993 and went
to the Office of the Attorney-Delegate for Human Rights, in order to begin a
disciplinary investigation into eight members of the army for the massacre, and
to the Office of the Attorney-Delegate for Judicial Oversight in order to begin
a parallel investigation into three army members for irregularities committed
during the proceedings before the military courts.
On July 29, 1994, the Attorney-Delegate’s Office issued Resolution 005,
which punished Lt. Col. Pablo Alfonso Briceño Lovera, Maj. César Augusto
Saavedra Padilla, 2nd Lt. Edilberto Cortés Valero, 2nd Cpl. José Gustavo Mora
Parra, 1st Cpl. José Agustín Cañón González, and 1st. Cpl. Pedro López
Gamboa with a request for their dismissal and Maj. Manuel Rodríguez
Diazgranados and 1st. Cpl. Miguel Antonio Gil Orozco with requests for
suspensions of fifteen and ten days, respectively. This judgment was appealed
against and upheld. The accused later filed an appeal based on principle of favorabilidad,
which was granted by the Delegate Prosecutor’s Office before the Office of the
Attorney General, who refused to hear the appeal because he considered it
inadmissible. Resolution 005 was upheld by Deed 028 of December 19, 1995, which
made it final through a writ of execution.
Regarding the probe into the irregularities committed during the military
courts’ investigation of the incident, in March 1994 a formal disciplinary
investigation was initiated to clarify the judicial actions of the commanding
officer of the Third Brigade, Gen. Víctor Arévalo Pinilla, Principal War
Auditor Antonio José Bolívar Cardona, and the judge of the 19th Military
Investigating Court, Maj. Alvaro Ochoa Barrera. Gen. Arévalo Pinilla was
punished with a five-day suspension in 1995, a measure that had no practical
effects since he was retired. The other persons involved received ten-day
suspensions without pay.
It should be noted that the State, within the Comité
de Seguimiento, agreed to implement a series of promotional measures. First,
it agreed to ask the President of the Republic and the Minister of Defense to
review the five- and ten-day suspensions of Gen. Víctor Arévalo Pinilla and
Dr. Antonio Bolívar Cardona, in order for an adequate punishment to be imposed
in accordance with the magnitude of the crime. Second, it agreed to ask the
Director of the National Penitentiary and Prisons Institute (INPEC) for
information on the grounds for the decision to hold the officers involved at
military facilities. The Committee thought it was unusual for individuals
accused of committing such serious crimes not to be detained in the same
conditions as the other accused, but rather to receive what it deemed to be
preferential treatment. Third, it agreed to bring the alleged irregularities in
the criminal proceedings to the attention of the Delegate Prosecutor for
Judicial Oversight and of the National Prosecutor General’s supervisory
Administrative proceedings and other compensatory measures
In November 1993, the Administrative Tribunal of Cauca ordered the State
to indemnify the relatives of Adán Ruano Daza. Subsequently, the same tribunal
received other claims for damages against the nation, the Ministry of Defense,
and the army for violation of the constitutional guarantee of respect for life
by agents of the State.
Most of the claims filed were resolved as recommended by the Comité de Seguimiento, which in Resolution Nº 02591 of March 3,
1997, ordered that the victims’ beneficiaries be paid damages. In some
instances, moral reparations and portions of the material compensations were
agreed on, with rulings on material compensations requested by siblings or
parents left pending when the victim was survived by a spouse or common-law
55. The Comité
de Impulso agreed upon a series of measures for social reparation: first,
attention for the families and individuals displaced from the township on
account of the massacre, through the Interior Ministry’s program for people
displaced by violence; second, the design and submission to the National Joint
Financing System of an infrastructure project to provide better coverage for the
township’s population in the fields of health, education, electric power, and
roads — specifically, improving and maintaining the Piedrasentada – Los Uvos
road; third, the design and submission to the competent public agencies of a job
creation project for the township’s inhabitants; finally, working in
conjunction with the victims’ families and representatives to ensure that one
or several of the projects is named in memory of the victims.
Issues of law
The State has acknowledged the responsibility of its agents in the
execution of the victims, and it has been proven that the massacre was carried
out by members of the “José Hilario López” Battalion of the national army,
together with two civilians who were wearing uniforms and bearing army-issue
weapons. The petitioners allege that the corresponding investigations and
prosecutions were not conducted within a reasonable period of time, that they
were not exhaustive, and that in those cases where convictions were reached the
punishments were not always been enforced conscientiously.
It should be noted that the work of the Comité
de Impulso and Seguimiento and the agreements they arrived at gave rise to a
series of recommendations intended to satisfy the right of judicial protection.
Specifically, they recommended further investigation into the alleged
participation of Lt. Col. Pablo Alfonso Briceño Lovera in the incident, and
into the possible criminal responsibility of Gen. Víctor Arévalo Pinilla
(ret.) for the crime of concealment. Regrettably, these recommendations were not
put into practice.
This must be seen together with the fact that, as indicated by the
narration above, the results of the disciplinary investigation carried out by
the Delegate Procurator for Human Rights do not fully coincide with those
reached by the military criminal justice system. Specifically, the military
courts threw out the allegations made against the suspected masterminds of the
massacre in spite of the accusations and cautionary measures imposed by the
regional judiciary and the recommendation for their dismissal made in the
In this regard, the Commission must point out that in cases where the
violation of a protected right leads to the commission of a crime under domestic
jurisdiction, the victims or their relatives are entitled to have a regular
court swiftly and effectively identify the physical perpetrators and the
masterminds behind it, prosecute them, and impose and enforce the corresponding
punishments. Article 8 of the American Convention states that:
person has the right to a hearing, with due guarantees and within a reasonable
time, by a competent, independent, and impartial tribunal, previously
established by law, in the substantiation of any accusation of a criminal nature
made against him or for the determination of his rights and obligations of a
civil, labor, fiscal, or any other nature.
Similarly, Article 25 stipulates that:
Everyone has the right to simple and prompt recourse, or any other
effective recourse, to a competent court or tribunal for protection against acts
that violate his fundamental rights recognized by the constitution or laws of
the state concerned or by this Convention, even though such violation may have
been committed by persons acting in the course of their official duties.
The States Parties undertake:
to ensure that any person claiming such remedy shall have his rights
determined by the competent authority provided for by the legal system of the
to develop the possibilities of judicial remedy; and
to ensure that the competent authorities shall enforce such remedies when
rules establish the obligation of providing access to justice with guarantees of
legality, independence, and impartiality, within a reasonable time and with all
due protection, together with the general obligation of providing effective
judicial recourse for violations of basic rights and requiring that the
procedural instruments or mechanisms be effective.
The Commission has repeatedly stated that on account of its nature and
structure, military justice does not satisfy the requirements of independence
and impartiality set forth in Article 8 of the American Convention. The
Commission has previously ruled on the suitability of military courts for
examining cases that involve human rights violations:
military criminal justice system has several unique characteristics which
prevent access to an effective and impartial judicial remedy in this
jurisdiction. First, the military justice system may not even be properly
referred to as a true judicial forum. The military justice system does not form
part of the judicial branch of the Colombian State. Rather, this jurisdiction is
operated by the public security forces and, as such, falls within the executive
branch. The decision-makers are not trained judges, and the Office of the
Prosecutor General does not fulfill its accusatory role in the military justice
a decision dated August 5, 1997, Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled as
the military criminal justice system to have competence over a crime, there must
be from the onset an evident link between the crime and the inherent activities
of military service. In other words, the punishable action must constitute an
excess or abuse of power occurring within the context of an activity that is
directly related to a legitimate function of the armed forces.
The link between the criminal action and the activity related to military
service breaks down when the crime is extremely serious, such as is the case
with crimes against humanity. In such circumstances, the case must be referred
to the civilian courts.
61. The Commission
believes that the massacre of 17 defenseless civilians cannot be considered part
of the legitimate functions of the security forces.
Consequently, the fact that the military courts were given jurisdiction
to try the individuals suspected of masterminding those serious violations
constitutes a breach of Articles 8 and 25 of the American Convention.
As regards Resolution 005, adopted within the Office of the National
Attorney General, which resolved to dismiss the members of the army who
participated in the incident, the Commission must note that it does not satisfy
the obligations of judicial protection contained in the Convention. Disciplinary
procedures alone do not constitute an effective and adequate means for judging,
punishing, and making amends for serious human rights violations.
The petitioners allege that there were unwarranted delays in the
administration of justice, in both the investigative and prosecution phases. It
should be determined whether the complexity of the case, the actions of the
victims’ relatives, and the activity of the courts justify the alleged delay
in the proceedings to establish the facts behind the violations committed at Los
The Commission finds no evidence to indicate a high degree of complexity
in the facts of this case. From the
onset, it was determined that members of Eagle Two Platoon, belonging to Company
A of the national army’s Infantry Battalion N° 7 “José Hilario López”
carried out the extrajudicial executions. Moreover,
the State offered an express recognition of responsibility for the participation
of its agents in the incident. This indicates that there was enough evidence to
Regarding the actions of the victims’ relatives, the members of their
families were initially prevented from intervening in the proceedings conducted
by the regional judiciary. In any event, whenever a crime that should be pursued
on an ex officio basis is committed,
the State is obliged to promote and pursue the criminal proceedings to their
final consequences. In
such cases, it falls to the State to investigate the facts and to judge and
punish the guilty as part of its obligation of preserving public order.
As regards the activity of the courts, the information submitted by the
parties reveals that the regional judiciary filed conflicts of competence in
favor of the military courts and only brought charges against the suspects and
served arrest warrants on them two years after the incident, in spite of the
ample evidence collected. The Commission concludes that the State failed to
fulfill its duty of providing due judicial guarantees within a reasonable period
Article 1(1) of the Convention stipulates the obligation of organizing
the government apparatus and, in general, the structures through which public
power is exercised in such a way as for them to be capable of legally ensuring
the free and full enjoyment of human rights.
As a result of this obligation, States parties have a legal duty to
prevent, investigate, and punish all violations of rights protected by the
American Convention. Specifically,
in the case at hand, the State has a duty to judge all of the physical
perpetrators of the massacre and the masterminds behind it, to punish them
effectively, and to make amends to all the families.
Based on the above factual and legal considerations, the Commission
concludes that the State has not totally and effectively guaranteed the judicial
protection owed to the victims’ families under Articles 8 and 25 of the
American Convention in conjunction with Article 1(1) thereof.
PROCESSING SUBSEQUENT TO REPORT
On September 28, 1999, the Commission approved Report
113/99 as provided under Article 50 of the American Convention.
In that report, the Commission, in view of the information gathered
during the proceedings, and of the admission of responsibility by the Republic
of Colombia, concluded that the State was responsible for violations of the
right to personal liberty, right to humane treatment, and right to life of
Alfonso Chilito, José Belisario Dorado Muñoz, Saúl Espinosa, Wilson Gil Velásquez,
Hoibar Gómez Mamian, Ruben Darío Joaquín Narváez, Santiago Lasso Bolaños,
Adriana López, Hernán Mamian Moreno, Leoncio Mellizo Angulo, Libardo Nieves
Dorado, Yenny Prieto Rengifo, Hernando Rosero, Adán Ruano Daza, and Alejandro
Salazar Paz, violations of the right to life of Pastora García and Henry Suárez
Villa; and violations of the right to a fair trial and right to judicial
protection recognized in Articles 8 and 25 of the Convention, according to the
obligation, established in Article 1(1), to guarantee the rights protected,
since the investigation was delayed and those responsible were not effectively
punished. The Commission indicated
that the State had taken a number of actions to comply with the commitments
undertaken in terms of indemnities and in terms of the social component of
reparations in the area where the events took place.
The Commission also stated that many of the victims' relatives had
received damages under resolution Nº 02591 of March 3, 1997.
In terms of the State's fulfillment of commitments regarding the social
component of reparations, the Commission learned that certain infrastructure
projects had been completed and others were in progress.
As of the date of approval of Report
113/99, there was no available information on these issues.
Given its conclusions, the Commission recommended that the State: (1)
carry out an impartial and effective investigation, under ordinary jurisdiction,
for the purpose of trying and punishing those responsible for planning and
carrying out the crime; (2) take
the necessary measures to ensure that the court-ordered penalties are
effectively applied; (3) take the
necessary measures to ensure that those among the relatives of the victims who
have not received damages are given due compensation; (4) take the necessary
measures to ensure that the State completes the projects initiated under the
social component of reparations; and (5) take the necessary measures to comply
fully with the case law developed by the Colombian Constitutional Court and by
this Commission in the investigation and trial of similar cases in ordinary
On October 19, 1999 the Commission sent the report to the State,
establishing a two-month deadline for compliance with the recommendations
contained therein. On December 20,
1999, the State requested a deferral of the deadline for presentation of
information on its compliance with the recommendations, which was duly granted.
On January 24, 2000, the State presented its reply, in which it included
a final evaluation of the results obtained under the friendly settlement
With respect to the five recommendations issued by the Comité
de Impulso in terms of the criminal proceedings, the State indicated that
the first recommendation had not been carried out because part of the action
pursued against Pablo Alfonso Briceño Lovera had been referred to the military
court of criminal justice. The
State was unable to present information on the implementation of the second and
third recommendations. It
maintained that the fourth recommendation had been implemented fully, in that
Mr. Asmed Ordóñez and Mr. Juan Carlos Muñoz had been sentenced to 30 years in
prison. The State did not submit
information on the additional action pending with respect to fulfillment of the
fifth recommendation. The
recommendation by the Comité de
Seguimiento that information be requested as to the grounds for the decision
to detain the officers implicated in the massacre at military headquarters was
rejected as out of order by IMPEC, which argued that this action would be
incompatible with the provisions of Article 402 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure and with Act 65/93.
The State provided no concrete information on the results of the decision
by the Comité de Seguimiento to refer
the irregularities in the criminal proceedings to the Delegate Procurator for
the Judicial Police and to the Inspectorate of the Office of the General
Prosecutor of the Nation for consideration.
With respect to the recommendation for disciplinary action, the State
maintained that the Procurator General of the Nation had taken all the necessary
steps to implement it fully. The
members of the Armed Forces had been removed permanently from the military
institution. The State also
confirmed that the recommendation by the Comité
de Impulso calling for review of the disciplinary rulings concerning the
individuals originally entrusted with the criminal investigation--Brigadier
General (R) Víctor Arévalo Pinilla, Dr. Antonio José Bolivar Cardona, and
Major and attorney Alvaro Ochoa Barrera--so that they might be punished in a
manner commensurate with their misdeeds, had not been carried out.
The State alleges that, in terms of action under administrative law, all
of the Comité de Impulso's
recommendations have been carried out. The
Administrative Tribunal of Cauca received 20 claims, which were tried jointly.
The State confirmed that 18 cases were settled and a favorable judgment
was rendered on December 16, 1997, with the exception of Case Nº 3984, in which
the claims were dismissed for lack of legal capacity.
In Case Nº 3776, the claim was presented again.
On March 3, 1998, by resolution Nº 02591, a payment of Col$655.453.589
to the beneficiaries of the victims was ordered.
In some cases, settlement was reached on damages for pain and suffering
and on only part of the damages for physical harm requested by the parents and
siblings of the victims in cases where the victim had a spouse or domestic
partner. Some of these damages were
processed by application of Act 288, under resolution 3 of 1997, adopted by the
Committee of Ministers, in the light of the recommendation issued by the IACHR
at its 97th session.
Concerning the six recommendations made by the Comité
de Impulso on the social component of reparations, the State indicated that
it had completed construction of the health unit in the Los Uvos district and
that the budgetary allocation for the remaining projects had been approved.
The State undertook to keep the Commission informed as to the fulfillment
of those commitments.
Lastly, the State stressed the importance and value of friendly
settlement as a mechanism which, in this particular case, enabled significant
progress to be made in some of the areas addressed during the proceedings, and
recognized the good will and commitment of the parties.
The State also pledged to continue pursuing steps to implement the
recommendations of the Commission.
The Commission wishes to state that it values the efforts made by the
petitioners and the Colombian State to resolve this case through the friendly
settlement process, and regrets that the process broke down in the final stage,
essentially because the commitments made in the area of justice were not
fulfilled. It should be recognized
that the State has taken a number of measures to fulfill the commitments
undertaken in terms of damages and the social component of reparations in the
area where the events occurred.
The Commission concludes that the Colombian State, by its own admission,
is responsible for violations of: the right to personal liberty, right to humane
treatment, and right to life of Alfonso Chilito, José Belisario Dorado Muñoz,
Saúl Espinosa, Wilson Gil Velásquez, Hoibar Gómez Mamian, Ruben Darío Joaquín
Narváez, Santiago Lasso Bolaños, Adriana López, Hernán Mamian Moreno,
Leoncio Mellizo Angulo, Libardo Nieves Dorado, Yenny Prieto Rengifo, Hernando
Rosero, Adán Ruano Daza, and Alejandro Salazar Paz; the right to life of
Pastora García and Henry Suárez Villa; and the rights to a fair trial and
judicial protection, recognized in Articles 8 and 25 of the Convention,
according to its obligation, established in Article 1(1), to guarantee the
rights protected, since the investigation was delayed and those responsible were
not effectively punished.
On the basis of the analysis and conclusions presented in this report,
THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS REITERATES THE
FOLLOWING RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE COLOMBIAN STATE:
Carry out an impartial and effective investigation, under ordinary
jurisdiction, for the purpose of trying and punishing those responsible for
planning and carrying out the crime.
Take the necessary measures to ensure that the court-ordered penalties
are effectively applied.
Take the necessary measures to ensure that those among the relatives of
the victims who have not received damages are given due compensation.
Take the necessary measures to ensure that the State completes the
projects initiated under the social component of reparations.
Take the necessary measures to comply fully with the case law developed
by the Colombian Constitutional Court and by this Commission in the
investigation and trial of similar cases in ordinary criminal courts.
On February 24, 2000, the Commission transmitted Report
N°1/00 adopted pursuant to Article 51 of the American Convention, to the
petitioners and the State, and granted a period of one month to the Colombian
State to present information on compliance with the aforementioned
recommendations. On March 23, 2000
the State requested an extension, which was duly granted by the Commission.
The State submitted its response in a communication dated March 31, 2000.
In its response, the State indicated that the criminal investigation
undertaken against members of the Army José Agustín Cañón González, Pedro López
Gamboa and Miguel Antonio Gil Orozco by the National Human Rights Unit is still
in its initial phase. Concerning the situation of the families of the victims
who have not as yet received reparations, the State informed the Commission that
the Ministry of the Defense was studying the feasibility of concluding
conciliation agreements on the basis of a new list of complainants before the
administrative courts. Regarding
the measures adopted to comply with the social component of the reparations
recommended by the Comité de Impulso,
the State indicated that it had secured the resources to finalize all five
infrastructure projects, which have been duly concluded, legalized and are being
executed. The State also informed
the Commission of the execution of the project for the social and psychological
assistance to treat the effects of the events that gave rise to this case and
rebuild social interaction between the community at Los Uvos.
The State also referred to the measures adopted to ensure the future
application of the case law of the Colombian Constitutional Court and the
Commission as regards the investigation and trial of events similar to those
that occurred at Los Uvos.
On the bases of the foregoing and in accordance with Articles 51(3) of
the American Convention and 48 of its Regulations, the Commission decides to
reiterate the conclusions reached in paragraph 78 and its recommendations, make
this Report public and include it in its Annual Report to the General Assembly
of the OAS. The Commission, consistent with its mandate, shall continue
evaluating the measures taken by the Colombian State in relation to the
recommendations mentioned, until they have been carried out.
Done and signed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights at the 13 day of the month of April 2000. (Signed): Hélio Bicudo, Chairman; Claudio Grossman; First Vice-Chairman, Juan E. Méndez, Second Vice-Chairman; and Commissioners Marta Altolaguirre, Robert K. Goldman, Peter Laurie and Julio Prado Vallejo.
The original petition was received during the on-site
visit to Colombia on May 4–8, 1992.
Communication EE/DH 24666 from the General Directorate for Special Affairs
at the Ministry of Foreign Relations, dated August 31, 1994.
report of the Coordinating Committee for following up on the recommendations
of the Comité de Impulso for the incidents of Los Uvos, Caloto, and
Villatina, presented at a
hearing held during the Inter-American Commission’s 97th regular session,
Speech by the President of the Republic at the ceremony accepting the
responsibility of the State in the violent events of Villatina, Caloto, and
Los Uvos and in the cases of Roison Mora and Faride Herrera.
Memorandum of understanding, signed on September 7, 1995, by Carlos Vicente
de Roux, Presidential Advisor on Human Rights, representing the State, and
by María Victoria Fallón, Gustavo Gallón Giraldo, and the José Alvear
Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective, representing the petitioners, before the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Claudio Grossman and Leo
Valladares attended as qualified observers on behalf of the Commission.
The Committee also included the Interior Ministry’s Directorate of
Indigenous Affairs, the Cauca Regional Indigenous Council (CRIC), and the
mothers of Villatina, as observers.
Final Report of the Comité de Impulso for the Cases of Los Uvos, Caloto,
and Villatina, presented
at the hearing held during the Inter-American Commission’s 91st regular
(a) Promote and coordinate care for the families and individuals displaced
from the township on the occasion of the massacre or on its account, through
the Interior Ministry’s program for people displaced by violence. (b)
Design, submit, and promote, before the competent bodies and with a view to
its processing by the National Joint Financing System, an infrastructure
project to provide better coverage or improved services to the population of
the township in the fields of health, education, electric power, and
roads--specifically, in this last instance, for improving and maintaining
the Piedrasentada--Los Uvos road. Adequate service shall be guaranteed for a
minimum period of one year. (c) Design, submit and promote, before the
competent public agencies, a job creation project for the inhabitants of the
township, along with a feasibility study. (d) By agreement with the
victims’ families and representatives, the Government will work to ensure
that one or several of the projects undertaken are named in memory of the
victims. Said name and those of the victims shall be duly recorded on a
clearly visible commemorative plaque. Ibid.
Memorandum of understanding that created the Coordinating Committee for
following up on the recommendations of the Comité
de Impulso for the incidents of Los Uvos, Caloto, and Villatina.
Because of internal organizational issues, the Comité
de Seguimiento did not submit its report to the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights on the agreed date. In addition, it encountered
operational obstacles, such as budgetary problems, confidentiality in
criminal and disciplinary cases, and failing to reach agreement on the
election of its chairman. These problems were later overcome. An IACHR
delegation visited Colombia in order to support the Comité
de Seguimiento’s efforts.
The report states that: “In light of the final criminal judgments and
rulings in the Los Uvos incident, the administrative conciliations, and the
conclusions of the Comité de
Seguimiento, the Colombian State believes the conditions exist for it to
accept international responsibility in the Los Uvos and Caloto cases; thus,
before the IACHR and pursuant to the American Convention on Human Rights, it
assumes its responsibility for these lamentable events. In order to express
this admission of responsibility, in addition to the terms set forth above,
the Executive shall organize a ceremony with the victims, their relatives,
and their representatives, and it shall take other steps it deems
appropriate to underscore this admission and to reiterate the State’s
commitment to complying with the international recommendations assumed
before the IACHR.” Report of the
Coordinating Committee for following up on the recommendations of the Comité
de Impulso for the incidents of Los Uvos, Caloto, and Villatina,
presented at the Inter-American Commission’s 97th regular session.
Report of the Coordinating Committee for following up on the
recommendations of the Comité de Impulso for the incidents of Los Uvos,
Caloto, and Villatina, presented at the Inter-American Commission’s
97th regular session.
Act Nº 288/96 establishes a mechanism for implementing the compensation
provisions of decisions handed down by intergovernmental agencies as regards
the State’s responsibility for human rights violations.
Colombia ratified the American Convention on Human Rights on July 31, 1973.
I/A Court H.R., In the Matter of
Viviana Gallardo et al., November 13, 1981, paragraph 26;
Velásquez Rodríguez Case, Preliminary
Objections, paragraph 88; Fairén
Garbi and Solís Corrales Case, Preliminary Objections, paragraph 87;
and Godínez Cruz Case, Preliminary Objections, paragraph 90.
In ruling on the legal status of the American Declaration, the Court
confirmed that, in principle, for states parties to the Convention, the
specific source of obligations with respect to the protection of human
rights was the Convention itself. Inter-Am. Ct. H.R., Advisory
Opinion OC-10/89 (Interpretation of the American Declaration of the Rights
and Duties of Man), July 14, 1989,
paragraph 46. The Inter-American Commission has ruled in a similar
fashion; see Report 38/99, Argentina, Annual Report of the IACHR 1998, paragraph 13.
The Commission has ruled that it is competent to examine violations of the
Declaration and of the Convention provided that they involve a continuous
violation of rights protected by those instruments; such as, for example,
the situation that would arise from a denial of justice originating before
the State ratified the Convention and enduring after the State’s
acceptance of said instrument and its coming into force. See, for example, Resolution
26/88, Case 10.190, Argentina, IACHR
Annual Report 1987-1988.
Final report of the Coordinating Committee for following up on the
recommendations of the Comité de
Impulso for the incidents of Los Uvos, Caloto, and Villatina, presented
at the hearing held during the Inter-American Commission’s 97th regular
session, p. 19; speech by the President of the Republic at the ceremony
accepting the State’s responsibility in the violent events of Villatina,
Caloto, and Los Uvos and in the cases of Roison Mora and Faride Herrera.
See the decision of August 3, 1998, handed down by the First Instance Court
of the Third Brigade of the National Army, Cali.
Decision of August 3, 1998, handed down by the First Instance Court of the
Third Brigade of the National Army, Cali.
Decision of Brig. Gen. Jaime Ernesto Canal Albán, First Instance Judge,
President of the Court Martial, taken at Cali on February 25, 1998, Third
Brigade, Court Martial, National Army, Military Forces of Colombia.
Decision of magistrates Col. Gabriel Alonso González Reyes, Gustavo Piraban
Cuesto, and María Isabel Barboza Ramírez, taken in Santafé de Bogotá on
April 19, 1999, (067-136207-8129) Superior Military Court, Armed Forces of
IACHR, Third Report on the Situation
of Human Rights in Colombia (1999), pp. 156 (para. 20).
See also, Second Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Colombia (1993),
p. 237: “Military tribunals do not guarantee that the right to a fair
trial will be observed, since they do not have the independence that is a
condition sine qua non for that
right to be exercised. Moreover, their rulings have frequently been biased
and have failed to punish members of the security forces whose involvement
in very serious human rights violations has been established.”
Constitutional Court, Decision C-358 of August 5, 1997.
Report Nº 52/97, Case 11.218, Arges Sequeira Mangas, IACHR Annual
Report 1997, paragraphs 96 and 97. See also, Report Nº 55/97, paragraph 392.
Nº 52/97, ibid.
Ibid., paragraph 166.
The relatives who benefited from that resolution are: María Teresa Dorado
de Nieves, Guillermo Nieves, Yenny Mercedes Nieves Dorado, Milvia Nieves
Dorado, Guillermo Nieves Dorado, Sara Stella Nieves Dorado, Hugo Martín
Nieves Dorado, Luis Ferney Nieves Dorado, Ariel Hernán Dorado, Socorro
Dorado, Olga Lucia Tellez García, Martha Leticia Tellez García, Mery
Erfilia Ceron de Espinosa, Mary Lucía Espinosa Cerón, Dennis de Jesús
Espinosa Cerón, Francy Aminta Espinosa Cerón, Carlina María Rengifo de
Prieto, Idelfonso Prieto Espinosa, Elen Yinet Lazo Prieto, Janier Lazo
Prieto, Libey Lazo Prieto, Manases Prieto Rengifo, Carlos Andrés Prieto
Rengifo, Jair Prieto Rengifo, Idelberto Prieto Rengifo, Nancy Prieto
Rengifo, Carmelina Mellizo Vega de Muñoz, Hugo Muñoz Mellizo, Lucely Muñoz
Mellizo, Carmenza Muñoz Mellizo, Leonso Muñoz Mellizo, Rosalba Gómez, Tránsito
Paz Solarte, Alejandro Salazar Romero, Leandro Salazar Paz, Freddy Antonio
Salazar Paz, María Alejandrina Salazar Paz, Hernán Salazar Paz, Peregrino
Gómez Hoyos, Euliecer Antonio Gómez Mamian, María Oliva Gómez Mamian,
Doumer Rafael Gómez Mamian, Miryam Gómez Mamian, María Inés Gómez
Mamian, Doris María Gómez Mamian, Segundo Peregrino Gómez Mamian,
Edilberto Gil Dorado, Ana Gedma Velásquez de Gil, María Victoria Gil Velásquez,
Gloria Patricia Gil Velásquez, Sandra María Gil Velásquez, Claudia
Cristina Gil Velásquez, and Maximina López Diaz.
These provisions state that law enforcement personnel shall serve prison
sentences in special facilities or, should these be unavailable, in the
facilities of the units to which they are assigned.
Nota EE 563 de la Dirección General
de Asuntos Especiales del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de la República
de Colombia, de fecha 31 de marzo de 2000.