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Resolution adopted unanimously by the Governing Council
at its 173rd session (Geneva, 3 October 2003)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Having before it the case of Mr. Gustavo Petro Urrego, a member of the Colombian House of Representatives, 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/173/11(b)-R.1), which contains a detailed outline of the case,

Taking account of a communication dated 13 August 2003 from the Director of the Human Rights Unit of the Attorney General's Office in which she undertook to provide updated information on the investigations into the case of Gustavo Petro, which has nevertheless not been forthcoming,

Considering that, on several occasions in 2000 and 2001, Mr. Gustavo Petro Urrego, a member of the Colombian House of Representatives, denounced in Parliament corruption scandals in which he implicated several senior officials, and that since then he has, together with other MPs, appeared regularly on "death lists" run by paramilitary groups; considering also that the attempt, in December 2000, on the life of Mr. Wilson Borja, who was on the lists, highlighted the seriousness of the threats,

Considering that in June 2001 Mr. Petro Urrego was alerted by an employee of the verification unit of the Attorney General's Office that his assassination was being organised, a matter which he denounced; having been alerted, on 11 September 2001, by the watchmen of the compound in which he was living to the tailing of his vehicle by a taxi and the presence of three men prowling around near his home, Mr. Petro formally lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Unit of the Attorney General's Office; in December 2001, a list was found in which a paramilitary group had indeed declared him, along with 200 other persons, a military target; according to the source, Gustavo Petro survived those threats because the paramilitary group that had been ordered to kill him, having become overconfident in its methods, was hit hard and broken up,

Considering that Mr. Petro was informed in June 2002 that a radio conversation had been intercepted between a high-profile official of the Attorney General's Office and paramilitary leader Carlos Castaño, which indicated that they were planning to have him assassinated before 20 July 2002; Mr. Petro immediately made that information public; a few days later, the Attorney General's Office reportedly asked him to produce evidence for his statements, to which Mr. Petro replied that the death threats came from someone in the Attorney General's Office who was conspiring with the paramilitary, and that the Office should therefore conduct an internal investigation to identify its co-workers who were collaborating with the paramilitary,

Noting that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights subsequently granted a request for the indication of provisional measures and ordered the Colombian authorities to provide Mr. Petro with all necessary protection and to investigate the death threats; noting also that, according to the source, the Attorney General, instead of implementing the order, immediately made an attempt - without success - to have it lifted, claiming that the petition was not admissible; noting further that the authorities have since then reportedly reduced the number of bodyguards assigned to Mr. Petro and replaced his armoured vehicle with an ordinary one,

Noting finally that, in early May 2003, Mr. Petro received information that a reward of over 300 million Colombian pesos had been offered for his assassination and that the paramilitary would carry out the operation, which, the source fears, may have been ordered by those he has denounced over the years,

Bearing in mind that Colombia is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights, which both guarantee the right to security of person,

  1. Expresses deep concern at the death threats against Mr. Petro Urrego, and emphatically urges the authorities to ensure his protection;

  2. Stresses the obligation of every State, including Colombia, to ensure the safety of its citizens, and emphasizes that, as the Human Rights Committee established under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights has ruled, States cannot ignore known threats to the lives of persons under their jurisdiction and must take reasonable and appropriate measures to protect them;

  3. Stresses that, as the experience of Colombia amply shows, impunity only leads to the repetition of crimes, and therefore calls on the competent authorities to conduct in a timely and effective manner the necessary investigations leading to the identification and apprehension of the culprits;

  4. Wishes to ascertain the measures taken by the Colombian authorities to implement the decision of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights;

  5. Eagerly awaits the substantive information which the Director of the Human and Humanitarian Rights Unit of the Attorney General's Office undertook to provide regarding the investigation in question;

  6. Requests the Secretary General to convey this decision to the President of the Colombian Congress and to the authorities concerned, inviting them to inform the Committee of any action they may have taken to implement its recommendations;

  7. Requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session to be held on the occasion of the 110th Assembly.

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