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Resolution adopted unanimously by the Governing Council
at its 174rd session (Mexico, 23 April 2004)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the outline of the case of Mr. Gustavo Petro Urrego, a member of the Colombian House of Representatives, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/174/12(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 173rd session (October 2003),

Taking account of a communication from the Procurator General’s Office (Procuraduría) dated 16 April 2004, and of a communication from the Director of the Presidential Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Programme, dated 5 January 2004,

Further taking account of communications from the sources, dated 13 October and 18 December 2003 and 15 April 2004,

Recalling that, according to the source, as a result of his having denounced in Parliament on several occasions in 2000 and 2001 corruption scandals implicating senior officials, Mr. Gustavo Petro Urrego appeared regularly on “hit lists” run by paramilitary groups; in June 2002, Mr. Petro was informed 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 by 20 July 2002; Mr. Petro immediately made that information public and lodged a complaint; having been seized of the matter, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) ordered the Colombian authorities to provide Mr. Petro with all necessary protection and to investigate the death threats,

Recalling also 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,

Considering that further threats were made against Mr. Petro in July 2003 by paramilitary groups and Carlos Castaño in connection with his criticism of the bill on alternative sanctions proposed by the Government, although an official of the Administrative Security Department (Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad DAS) reportedly stated in an official document that Mr. Petro did not face any security problems; Mr. Petro was again the target of threats by paramilitaries in the course of 2003 and 2004 because of his criticism of the same bill; although these threats were posted on the websites of the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) and the paramilitary group Bloque Central Bolívar, the DAS reportedly informed Mr. Petro that he had provided no evidence of being threatened,

Considering also that, according to the authorities, Mr. Petro has been afforded the necessary security measures, including an armoured vehicle, and that, within the framework of the precautionary measures ordered by the IACHR on 21 June 2002, a process of regular consultation and evaluation concerning the necessary action needed to ensure Mr. Petro’s safety has been taking place,

Considering further that three disciplinary investigations are under way regarding the complaints made by Mr. Petro, two of which, conducted by the Human Rights Unit of the Procurator General’s Office and by the National Directorate of Special Investigations, respectively, are at the preliminary stage and the third, conducted by the Procurator for Disciplinary Matters Human Rights Unit, is at the stage of preliminary investigation of the complaint,

Taking account of information provided by the source on 15 April 2004, according to which Mr. Petro has been accused before the Supreme Court by the Attorney General of abuse of authority and of undue disclosure of secrets; the source affirms that the charges relate to Mr. Petro’s disclosure of a document containing the names and telephone numbers of officers of the Attorney General’s Office and members of the paramilitary and their possible links; according to the source, the main author of the document, Mr. Riaño Botina, an employee of the Technical Investigations Unit of the Attorney General’s Office, was subsequently dismissed and fled the country as the only means of saving his life; several other employees of the Attorney General’s Office have reportedly likewise been replaced in an effort to ensure impunity,

Considering that, according to the source, the Judge of the Penal Chamber of the Supreme Court is to rule shortly on whether or not proceedings should formally start against Mr. Petro; the source fears that Mr. Petro will not enjoy a fair trial as the Judge in charge was previously Attorney Designate before the Supreme Court, therefore reporting to the very Attorney General whom Mr. Petro had been criticising,

Considering also that Mr. Petro formally presented to the Committee on Accusations of Congress reportedly well-documented accusations against the Attorney General of perjury and criminal offences allegedly committed in the exercise of his functions,

Bearing in mind that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in his reports to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights of February 2003 and February 2004, urged the Attorney General, “within his Office’s Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Unit, to establish a group specialising in the investigation of possible links between members of the security forces and paramilitary groups” and called further on the President of the Republic “to take all necessary steps to ensure that independently of any dialogue conducted between the Government and paramilitary groups, all links between public officials and members of such groups are severed…”,

  1. Is alarmed that the authorities, instead of acting on the highly worrying information indicating possible links between the Attorney General’s Office and paramilitary groups, may bring criminal proceedings against Mr. Petro; wishes to ascertain whether and, if so, with what outcome, such proceedings have been instituted;

  2. Is confident that the Congress Committee on Accusations is looking into the accusations made by Mr. Petro; wishes to ascertain the stage reached in that examination;

  3. Believes that the magnitude and seriousness of the alleged collusion of officials in the Attorney General’s Office and the paramilitary, including Carlos Castaño, warrants the establishment of an independent inquiry commission to ensure that the allegations can be examined with the necessary diligence, independence, impartiality and thoroughness; calls on the Congress to set up such a commission;

  4. Is convinced that such a step would also lend practical meaning to the reiterated recommendation made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights that a special unit be established to deal with such matters;

  5. Urges the competent authorities to investigate without delay the death threats against Mr. Petro, as their duty commands, and to ensure that such investigations are carried out quite independently and objectively;

  6. Notes the elaborate protection scheme with which Mr. Petro has been provided, as required under the precautionary measures ordered by the IACHR; nevertheless expresses its concern at reports that, despite the publicly known threats against Mr. Petro from the paramilitary groups, the Administrative Department for Security (DAS) has repeatedly claimed ignorance of them;

  7. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the competent authorities, inviting them to inform it of any action they may have taken to implement its recommendations;

  8. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 111th Assembly (September-October 2004).

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