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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Council
at its 171st session (Geneva, 27 September 2002)

The Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the outline of the case of Mr. Pedro Nel Jiménez Obando, Mr. Leonardo Posada Pedraza, Mr. Octavio Vargas Cuéllar, Mr. Pedro Luis Valencia Giraldo, Mr. Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa and Mr. Manuel Cepeda Vargas of Colombia, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/171/12(a)-R.1), and to the relevant resolution adopted at its 170th session (March 2002),

Taking account of the letters from the Director of the Presidential Programme on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law dated 19 June and 17 September 2002,

Recalling that the MPs concerned were all assassinated between 1986 and 1994 and that only in the case of Senator Cepeda Vargas have the murderers been identified, brought to trial and sentenced; recalling also that at first and second instance, former paramilitary leader Carlos Castaño Gil, who had been indicted as the presumed instigator of the crime, was acquitted; recalling further, however, that Carlos Castaño has acknowledged in his book "My Confession" (December 2001) having ordered and personally led the commando which assassinated Manuel Cepeda, and that the book has been forwarded as evidence of Carlos Castaño's guilt to the Supreme Court before which the Cepeda murder case is currently pending,

Recalling further that Senator Cepeda's son and daughter-in-law went into exile following death threats which started in December 1999; considering that, according to information provided by the Director of the Presidential Programme on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, the investigations have so far remained fruitless and are at the stage of evidence-taking; on 11 February 2002, Mr. Cepeda's son and daughter-in-law were summoned to appear before the Prosecutor's Office to provide further information but have not presented themselves,

Recalling finally that the wife and daughter of the main witness in the Cepeda case were kidnapped and that the authorities reported at the time that they were looking into the facts and that, according to the source, the Human Rights Unit of the Prosecutor General's Office had taken measures to prevent the kidnapping of the second daughter; however, the Director of the Presidential Programme on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law stated on 19 June 2002 that "it has not been possible to find in the Prosecutor General's Office any file on this case", which he confirmed on 17 September 2002 while stating that "we continue to collaborate with the Prosecutor General's Office to find this information",

Considering that, according to the aforesaid Director, Carlos Castaño and his brother Fidel were found guilty by a criminal court on 28 November 2001 of the murder of Senator Jaramillo; the investigation into the presumed participation of members of the Administrative Department of Security (DAS) is in the preliminary phase; considering, however, that, according to that Director in his letter of 17 September 2002, the investigations into the murders of Mr. Jiménez Obando, Mr. Posada Pedraza, Mr. Vargas Cuéllar and Mr. Valencia Giraldo have been provisionally suspended as it was not possible to identify the culprits; considering also that, according to the same communication, the subcommittee set up in 1999 to investigate crimes committed against Unión Patriótica members was seeking to carry out special action to elucidate the cases in coordination with members of the Unión Patriótica, the Prosecutor General's Office and other entities,

Noting the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights of 28 February 2002 (E/CN.4/2002/17), which concludes that: "There was a noticeable gap between the Government's tough discourse against the paramilitary groups and both its actions and failure to assess the extent of public servants' ties to these groups" and "the impunity that protects those responsible for paramilitary acts, owing to acts of commission or omission, and the limited effectiveness of the State's mechanisms for combating these groups, in large measure account for their increased strength",

Recalling that the former parliamentary authorities responded positively in January 2002 to the prospect of an on-site mission concerning the cases of Colombian parliamentarians under the Committee's examination, but that a change in the political climate prevented the mission from taking place as scheduled; noting that a new Congress and Government have since been installed,

  1. Thanks the Director of the Presidential Programme on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law for his cooperation and the information provided;

  2. Notes with satisfaction that the murderers of Senator Jaramillo were sentenced; affirms, however, that sentences lack any practical effect if no serious measures are taken to ensure their implementation; urges the authorities to do their utmost to apprehend the murderers, and to persist in their efforts to shed full light on any possible participation of State agents in the murder;

  3. Fails to understand that Senator Cepeda's son and daughter-in-law, whose exile abroad was arranged with the assistance of the authorities, were requested to appear before the prosecution to present further information; calls on the authorities to contact them at their current residence in order to advance justice in this case;

  4. Is alarmed that there is no trace of an investigation into the kidnapping of the wife and daughter of the main witness in the Cepeda case; urges the authorities to determine their whereabouts without delay;

  5. Is deeply concerned at the suspension of the investigations into the murder of Mr. Jiménez Obando, Mr. Posada Pedraza, Mr. Vargas Cuéllar and Mr. Valencia Giraldo, which confirms that no progress has been made towards identifying and punishing the culprits;

  6. Forcefully recalls that States are under an obligation to make every effort to ensure that human rights violations do not go unpunished, irrespective of how long ago they were committed; urges the Colombian authorities to turn their expressed commitment to fighting impunity into effective action;

  7. Reiterates its belief that, given the number and magnitude of the cases and the fact that most of them have come to a standstill, the grounds for the earlier proposed on-site mission to gather information from the competent parliamentary, governmental, administrative and judicial authorities, as well as from the sources, competent lawyers and human rights organisations concerned, remain fully valid;

  8. Requests the Secretary General therefore to contact the new parliamentary authorities with a view to an on-site mission as early as possible; is confident that the new Congress will likewise respond favourably to this request and will make every effort to ensure that it can go ahead as early as possible;

  9. Requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session (April 2003) in the light of such information as the mission may have gathered.
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