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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. Oscar Lizcano 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 sessiona (March 2002),

Having before it the case of Mr. Eduardo Gechen Turbay, Mr. Luis Eladio Pérez Bonilla, Mr. Orlando Beltrán Cuéllar, Ms. Gloria Polanco de Lozada and Ms. Consuelo González de Perdomo, all members of the Colombian Congress, which has been the subject of a study and report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians in accordance with the "Procedure for the examination and treatment, by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, of communications concerning violations of human rights of parliamentarians",

Taking note of the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/171/12(a)-R.1), which contains a detailed outline of the case,

Considering the wave of kidnappings of political figures in Colombia, which have included former Senator and presidential candidate Ms. Ingrid Betancourt, in addition to members of local and regional assemblies, by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Colombia's main guerrilla group,

Considering that six members of the Colombian Congress were kidnapped by FARC between 5 August 2000 and 23 February 2002 and that the sources have provided the following specific information on each one of them:

  • Mr. Lizcano was kidnapped by FARC on 5 August 2000 in Riosucio (Province of Caldas); on 15 June 2002, Mr. Lizcano's family received a letter from him confirming earlier information that his health, for want of any medical assistance, had worsened considerably as he suffered from serious skin and stomach problems, dizziness resulting in loss of consciousness, and malaria;

  • Mr. Gechen Turbay, Senator and head of the Senate's Peace Commission, was kidnapped on 20 February 2002 after four armed FARC members hijacked the plane he had boarded for Bogotá and forced the pilots to land on a secluded road;

  • On 10 June 2001, Senator Eladio Pérez was kidnapped by FARC; according to the source, Mr. Pérez is a diabetic and suffers from high blood pressure; in October 2001, he went into a diabetic coma, which FARC reportedly confirmed; since January 2002 there has been no sure evidence that he is still alive;

  • Mr. Orlando Beltrán Cuéllar was kidnapped by FARC on 28 August 2001 in the municipality of Gigante-Huila while attending to a political engagement; there has been no sure evidence since February 2002 that he is still alive;

  • Ms. Gloria Polanco de Lozada was kidnapped by FARC on 26 July 2001 from her apartment in Neiva-Huila, along with her two children, Jaime Felipe and Juan Sebastián, aged 17 and 14, respectively; there has not been any indication as to whether they are still alive;

  • Ms. Consuelo González de Perdomo was abducted by FARC on 10 September 2001 in Pitalito-Huila; there has been no sure evidence since February 2002 that she is still alive,

Noting that the Director of the Presidential Programme on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law reported on 19 June and 17 September 2002 that:

  • the authorities' efforts and action taken to establish the whereabouts of Mr. Lizcano had been to no avail, and that the Prosecutor of the GAULA (military and police anti-kidnapping unit) of Manizales was carrying out investigations (Case N° 93486), which were still in a preliminary phase pending determination of the legal status of two FARC members who had been declared absent;

  • the investigation launched by the National Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law of the Prosecutor General's Office (file N° 1169) into Mr. Gechen's kidnapping was in a preliminary phase; that, moreover, the Administrative Department of Security (DAS) and the Prosecutor of the Support Unit of Neiva were also entrusted on 22 April 2002 with carrying out judicial action,

Recalling that the former Colombian Government under President Pastrana was engaged in a process of negotiation with FARC during which both sides signed an agreement on 2 June 2001 concerning an exchange of sick rebels for kidnapped government soldiers, which led to a first release on 17 June 2001 and a second release of 250 police officers and soldiers at the end of July 2001; recalling also that the Government broke off that process on 20 February 2002 after FARC hijacked an aircraft and kidnapped Senator Gechen,

Noting that according to one of the sources, FARC fixed in February 2002, shortly after kidnapping Ms. Betancourt, a one-year deadline for the Government to reach a humanitarian agreement on the exchange of imprisoned members of FARC for politicians held by it; that, failing such an agreement by February 2003, FARC would decide on the fate of its captives,

Considering that, according to information provided by the Colombian delegation to the Special Session of the Council (September 2002), Congress had denounced the kidnappings and requested the Minister of the Interior and the head of the police corps to provide the necessary protection for all Congress members; while Congress earlier participated in a dialogue with FARC through the National Council for Peace, which also included representatives of the Church, civil society and labour unions, it was not possible to continue the process under President Pastrana's Government, given its decision to channel all such contacts through the High Commissioner for Peace,

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 Colombian delegation and the Director of the Presidential Programme on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law for the information provided;

  2. Strongly condemns the kidnappings of the MPs concerned as they not only constitute a violation of their fundamental human right to liberty, to security, to personal integrity and to freedom of movement, but also amount to an attack on Parliament as such;

  3. Is deeply concerned that all of them except Senator Gechen have now been in the hands of the guerrillas for more than one year, with Mr. Lizcano and Mr. Pérez being in poor health, and there is no indication as to the fate of the others;

  4. Recalls that it is the primary duty of the Colombian State to guarantee the genuine enjoyment, by everyone, of fundamental human rights and freedoms throughout the country; therefore calls on the Colombian Congress to do its utmost to ensure that effective action is taken to ascertain the fate of its members concerned and to obtain their release;

  5. Notes in this respect that investigations are under way into the kidnapping of Mr. Lizcano and Mr. Gechen; would appreciate information as to any progress made and whether investigations into the other kidnappings have been launched;

  6. Considers that, given the magnitude and gravity of these kidnappings, the need for the earlier proposed on-site mission with a mandate to meet the competent parliamentary and governmental authorities, the sources and any other entities possibly able to assist in finding a satisfactory solution, has become all the more acute;

  7. 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 make every effort to ensure, in the light of the deadline set by FARC, that it can be carried out as early as possible;

  8. Urges the authorities meanwhile to endeavour to arrange for the International Committee of the Red Cross to obtain access to the kidnapped parliamentarians in order to provide them with the necessary medical assistance;

  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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