IPU Logo-top   
 IPU Logo-middleInter-Parliamentary Union  
IPU Logo-bottomPlace du Petit-Saconnex, P.O. Box 438, 1211 Geneva 19, Switzerland  

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 Ms. Piedad Córdoba 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),

Recalling that Ms. Córdoba was kidnapped and held captive from 21 May to 4 June 1999 and that Mr. Carlos Castaño Gil, at that time head of the paramilitary "Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia" (AUC), subsequently admitted his group's responsibility for the kidnapping; upon Ms. Córdoba's release, her telephone conversations were tapped and transcripts of them published in the media, jeopardising her personal safety,

Recalling also that Ms. Córdoba went into exile after reporting to the media on 9 September 1999 the existence of a plan to kill her, asserting that those behind the plan were extreme right-wing military; in the investigations launched by the Attorney General into the kidnapping and death threats "Carlos Castaño's name came up"; investigations have also been launched into the telephone taps; Ms. Córdoba returned to Colombia in February 2002 and was re-elected in the parliamentary elections of March 2002,

Taking account of the information provided by the Director of the Presidential Programme on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law on 19 June 2002, according to which "on 7 November 2000 the preventive detention of Mr. Carlos Castaño Gil was ordered for the crime of aggravated kidnapping for the purpose of extortion; the case is at the stage of evidence-taking with respect to establishing whether a second perpetrator was involved",

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 in her report of 2001, the High Commissioner pointed out that "Carlos Castaño Gil had gained public visibility in the national and international media with disconcerting ease and that while paramilitary operations were still on the rise, they had not encountered any governmental action aimed at stopping them",

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 the information provided;

  2. Notes that Mr. Carlos Castaño's preventive detention has been ordered in connection with Ms. Córdoba's kidnapping; is nevertheless alarmed that, almost two years after its issuance, the order has yet to be implemented and that no progress has been reported in the investigations into the death threats, even though Ms. Córdoba has provided clear indications as to who may have issued them;

  3. Recalls that States are under an obligation to make every effort to ensure that human rights violations do not go unpunished, and once more urges the authorities, in particular the newly elected Congress, to ensure, as their duty commands, that their commitment to fighting impunity is matched by effective action to bring to trial the culprits of the kidnapping and death threats which Ms. Córdoba suffered;

  4. Reiterates its belief that, for want of any real progress in this case, the grounds for the earlier proposed on-site mission to gather information from the competent parliamentary, governmental, administrative and judicial authorities, as well as the source, competent lawyers and human rights organisations concerned, remain fully valid;

  5. 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;

  6. 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.
Note: you can download a complete electronic version of the brochure "Results of the Special Session of the Council and related meetings of the Inter-Parliamentary Union" in PDF format (file size approximately 534K). This version requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, which you can download free of charge.Get Acrobat Reader