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Resolution adopted unanimously by the Governing Council
at its 177th session (Geneva, 19th October 2005)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Having before it the case of Mr. Jorge Tadeo Lozano Osorio, a former member of the Colombian Congress, which has been the subject of a study and report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians following the Procedure for the Treatment by the IPU of Communications concerning Violations of the Human Rights of Members of Parliament,

Taking note of the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, which contains a detailed outline of the case (CL/177/11(a)-R.1),

Considering the following information on file:

  • In May 1990, when Mr. Tadeo Lozano was a congressman, an investigation was launched on the basis of his illicit enrichment. In May 1992, the case was brought before the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice, which on 23 September 1992 ruled that there were no grounds for prosecuting Mr. Lozano. The prosecutor appealed against that decision, which was upheld on appeal. Mr. Lozano submitted a request for reparation for the damages incurred. The prosecutor subsequently filed, on the basis of the same evidence, two complaints against Mr. Lozano accusing him of malicious use of legal process. He was cleared on both counts. Mr. Lozano then brought a similar accusation against the prosecutor before the Congressional Committee on Accusations. The member of parliament who acted as Rapporteur for the Committee was subsequently subjected to an investigation by the Supreme Court and obliged to give up his rapporteurship. The Committee declared itself incompetent to take up the matter, as the period within which such a charge could be brought had already lapsed;

  • The prosecutor then used the same evidence to bring against Mr. Lozano a new charge of embezzlement alleging that he had unlawfully granted subsidies in 1990. An investigation was formally launched in March 1994, and closed on 17 February 1997. The prosecutor had meanwhile become a member of the Supreme Court, which on 17 August 2000 found Mr. Lozano guilty of the charge and sentenced him to 12 years' imprisonment. On 15 December 2004, the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice granted Mr. Lozano parole, which effectively and formally took effect only as of 12 January 2005,
Considering that, with regard to procedural aspects, the following allegations have been made:
  • Mr. Lozano affirms that, since the investigation against him was launched before the entry into force of the 1991 Constitution, his case does not come under the special jurisdiction of the Supreme Court; even if it were accepted that, with the entry into force of the 1991 Constitution (4 July 1991), the competent court was the Supreme Court, it is the plenary of the court and not its Criminal Chamber which should have heard his case. Moreover, one of the judges sitting in the Criminal Chamber which heard his case was the very prosecutor who had launched the investigation against him and remained in charge of the file until being appointed a Supreme Court judge in 1995;

  • By virtue of Article 186 of the 1991 Constitution, members of Congress can only be investigated and judged by the Supreme Court at first and last instance and therefore do not enjoy the right to appeal;

  • Mr. Lozano affirms that he was denied access to the file from 4 May 1990, when the preliminary investigation was launched, until 9 June 1994, the date of his first hearing by the court. He moreover affirms that during the investigation phase and the trial itself he was denied the right to present evidence and witnesses, and to have prosecution witnesses cross-examined;

  • Mr. Lozano stresses that the authorities extensively exceeded the legal deadline of 18 months provided for by law for the investigation (launched in March 1994 and closed in February 1997). He also affirms that the entire set of proceedings against him did not meet international criteria with regard to time, as the investigations started in May 1990 and the judgement was handed down 10 years later, in April 2000,
Considering that Mr. Lozano brought his case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; the Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission, having first declared that the case did not meet the admissibility criteria, stated in a letter addressed to the IPU Secretary General in August 2002 that the question of admissibility would be re-examined in the light of the Inter-American Commission's jurisprudence, citing a particular case, and of the additional information referred to it by Mr. Lozano; on 18 September 2002, Mr. Lozano renewed his petition to the Inter-American Commission; at the meeting held on 23 March 2005 between the IPU Secretary General and the Assistant Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission, the latter declared that the Commission's decision on the admissibility of the case of Mr. Lozano would be reviewed shortly,

Noting that Mr. Lozano has still not received any response from the Secretariat of the Inter-American Commission regarding the consideration of his case,

  1. Is deeply concerned that Mr. Lozano was convicted and sentenced to a heavy prison term as a result of fundamentally flawed proceedings, given not only that the conviction was based on the same facts and evidence that supported a previous charge which had been dismissed eight years before, but also that he was not tried by a court that can be considered impartial, insofar as it included a member who not only had previously dealt with the same case as prosecutor, but had also been accused by Mr. Lozano of a criminal offence before the Congressional Committee on Accusations;

  2. Is appalled therefore that Mr. Lozano has been denied the possibility, on appeal, of raising these fundamental issues, and that other irregularities have affected his right to fair trial;

  3. Stresses that the American Convention on Human Rights and related jurisprudence provide extensive protection of the right to fair trial; deeply regrets therefore that the Inter-American Commission has not yet re-examined the admissibility of Mr. Lozano's case, more than three years after it stated that such re-examination would take place; sincerely hopes that, as had been indicated, it will indeed pronounce in this regard as a matter of urgency and rule as early as possible on the merits of this case;

  4. Strongly believes that it is in the interests of Congress to ensure that its members have a right to appeal in criminal proceedings, as the lack of such right not only constitutes a violation of the right to equality but may also open the door to arbitrary legal actions, which in the final analysis could undermine the independence of parliament as such; and calls therefore on Congress to adopt, as soon as possible, the necessary legislation to this end;

  5. Requests the IPU Secretary General to bring this resolution to the attention of the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States, the competent authorities of the Inter-American Commission and the competent Colombian authorities, as well as Mr. Lozano;

  6. Request the Committee to continue examining the case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 114th IPU Assembly (May 2006).

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