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Resolution adopted unanimously by the Governing Council
at its 176th session (Manila, 8th April 2005)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case concerning the assassinations of Mr. Pedro Nel Jiménez Obando, Mr. Leonardo Posada Pedraza, Mr. Octavio Vargas Cuéllar, Mr. Pedro Luís Valencia Giraldo, Mr. Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa, Mr. Manuel Cepeda Vargas and Mr. Octavio Sarmiento Bohórquez, all of whom were members of the parliament of Colombia, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/176/13(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 175th session (October 2004),

Taking account of the letter from the Director of the Presidential Programme on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, dated 28 March 2005, which includes reports from the Attorney General's Office, and the letters from the Director of Political and Electoral Affairs and the Director of the Legal Order (Ordenamiento Jurídico) of the Ministry of the Interior and Justice, dated 20 and 18 February 2005, respectively,

Recalling that, in the case of Mr. Jaramillo, paramilitary group leaders Mr. Carlos Castaño and his brother Mr. Fidel Castaño were identified as the murderers and sentenced in absentia in November 2001; that in his book, My Confession, Mr. Carlos Castaño not only admitted his responsibility for Senator Cepeda's assassination, but also described the criminal operation in detail and mocked the Colombian justice system which had acquitted him at first and second instances; and that Mr. Carlos Castaño also acknowledged his responsibility in live radio and written press interviews, and tried to justify his motives on numerous occasions and in various places,

Considering that on 11 November 2004 the Supreme Court upheld the acquittal of Mr. Carlos Castaño, who had by then disappeared and reportedly been assassinated, and denied the probative force of his book, arguing that it was a "reporter's chronicle" that was submitted at the wrong time; that Senator Cepeda's family intends to refer the matter to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights,

Recalling that in the case of Mr. Jiménez, the presumed suspects, all military officers, had been arrested but were later released, and that evidence exists in the cases of Mr. Posada, Mr. Valencia and, even more so, in the case of Mr. Sarmiento where a detailed account exists of how paramilitaries occupied his farm and shot him dead on 1 October 2001,

Recalling also that, in its concluding observations of 2004 on the fifth report of Colombia (CCPR/CO/80/COL) submitted under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the United Nations Human Rights Committee, in relation to, inter alia, the unpunished murder of legislators, stated that it was "disturbed about the participation of agents of the State party in the commission of such acts, and the apparent impunity enjoyed by their perpetrators", and recommended that the Colombian authorities "should take immediate and effective steps to investigate these incidents, punish and dismiss those found responsible and compensate the victims, so as to ensure compliance with the guarantees set forth in Articles 2, 3, 6, 7 and 9 of the Covenant",

Recalling furthermore that since 1999 an amicable settlement procedure has been under way before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regarding a petition lodged in March 1997 pertaining to the persecution of the Unión Patriótica political party and its members, and that several working groups were set up in that framework to examine human rights violations perpetrated against that partyís members; considering that, in the meeting the Secretary General had in March 2005 with the Deputy Executive Secretary to the Inter-American Commission, the latter stated that several Unión Patriótica members had expressed their disappointment at the lack of progress in the procedure, and were considering seizing the Inter-American Commission of the matter,

Considering that the Government has presented a new, revised bill on the demobilisation of the paramilitary groups, now in progress, which was discussed in the Congress at committee level in late March 2005 and strongly criticised by some Congress members for failing to ensure adequate respect for the right to justice and the right to reparation, which prompted several legislative counterproposals,

Noting that a Special Committee to advance investigations of human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law was established under the Vice-Presidentís programme to combat impunity, which has prioritised certain cases,

Bearing in mind that, in its report to the 61st session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recommended to the Parliament and the Government that a legal framework be put in place as soon as possible that fully recognised and guaranteed the right of the victims to truth, justice and reparation,

  1. Thanks the authorities for the recent information provided in this case;

  2. Notes with deep concern that Mr. Carlos Castaño was cleared by the Supreme Court of any involvement in the murder of Senator Cepeda despite his repeated public admissions of responsibility freely made; fails to understand how Mr. Carlos Castaño's statements were denied any probative force; and wishes to be informed of the legal grounds requiring that such evidence be set aside;

  3. Can only consider that the ruling runs counter to Colombia's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other human rights instruments, and to repeated United Nations recommendations for more decisive action by the authorities to combat impunity;

  4. Notes that Senator Cepeda's family intends to lodge a complaint with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; and requests the Committee to act, at the appropriate time in the procedure, as amicus curiae before the Commission;

  5. Deeply regrets that the communications from the Attorney General's Office provide no information on action taken in the case of Mr. Sarmiento and do not specify whether the investigations are still being pursued in the other cases;

  6. Points out that there is ample evidence in the case of Mr. Sarmiento that he was killed by paramilitary, and that there are clear leads in several of the other cases, which would enable the authorities to progress towards bringing the culprits to trial; once more calls on the authorities to act with the necessary resolve to ensure that these cases do not go unpunished; and wishes to ascertain the possibility of their being included in the cases dealt with by the Special Committee to advance investigations of human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law;

  7. Calls on the Congress, in this crucial phase, to ensure that the bill on the demobilisation of paramilitary groups fully respects existing standards on justice and reparation and the many recommendations made to this effect by national and international bodies; would greatly appreciate being kept informed of any developments in this regard;

  8. Deeply regrets that the various working groups set up in the framework of the amicable settlement procedure in the Unión Patriótica case have so far failed to achieve any tangible results; and calls on the authorities to provide their full support in ensuring an effective settlement;

  9. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the competent authorities and to the sources;

  10. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 113th IPU Assembly (October 2005).

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