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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 184th session
(Addis Ababa, 10 April 2009)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. Wilson Borja, an incumbent member of the Colombian Congress and a vocal critic of the Colombian Government, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/184/12(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 183rd session (October 2008),

Taking into account the information provided by the source on 2 April 2009,

Recalling that an attempt was made on Mr. Borja's life on 15 December 2000, after he had received repeated death threats; following the sentencing of four persons to prison terms ranging from 28 to 60 years, an indictment was brought on 26 August 2005 against five accused who have not yet been apprehended; one of those convicted, Army Major César Alonso Maldonado Vidales, escaped from prison in November 2004, even though he was being guarded by some 30 prison officers, but was recaptured on 15 July 2008; two army officers were punished - one for a disciplinary offence leading to his suspension for 80 days and the other with a two-year suspended prison sentence - for their responsibility in the escape,

Recalling that there have reportedly been deficiencies on several occasions (starting in May 2006) in Mr. Borja's security arrangements without any action being taken; considering the latest information provided by the source in this respect: the armoured vehicle provided to Mr. Borja by the Ministry of Interior and Justice and the Administrative Department of Security is reportedly often out of order and sent for repairs and therefore unavailable and that the substitute vehicles are often equally defective or only provided very temporarily; that the armoured vehicle provided by the House of Representatives also had to be repaired frequently without Mr. Borja being provided with a replacement and that only when he took legal action was his vehicle handed over to him, though still in a defective state; he was told that action was being taken to provide him with a new vehicle, but so far with no result,

Recalling that on 4 July 2008 the Supreme Court opened a preliminary investigation into Mr. Borja and others for their alleged links to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which, according to the source, has no basis and merely refers to contacts he and others have had in their capacity as advocates and facilitators of a peaceful solution to the conflict in Colombia; the source claims that the authorities passed the information collected during the investigation to selected media, although the investigation was still ongoing; when Mr. Borja was publicly linked to FARC in a radio interview on 20 February 2007, he lodged a complaint with the Committee on Accusations of the House of Representatives, whose investigation is under way, considering that, according to the source, the criminal proceedings against Mr. Borja and others, after more than 10 months, have reportedly not produced any proof of his involvement with FARC,

Considering the allegations and revelations regarding the Administrative Department of Security (DAS) regarding

  1. statements under oath by Mr. Salvatore Mancuso, former paramilitary leader who was extradited to the United States of America, according to which former Sub-Director of DAS, Mr. José Miguel Narváez, formed “an active part of an instruction team for paramilitary groups on the coast of Colombia” and in the course of several visits told them that “Mr. Borja was an alleged collaborator of the guerrilla” and lectured on “why it was legal to kill communists in Colombia”; according to Mr. Mancuso, these insinuations could have well been a determining factor in the attack on Mr. Borja in 2000;

  2. the publication of two memoranda by Mr. Jaime Fernando Ovalle Díaz, a mid-level DAS employee, dated 29 August 2008, in which he requested information about opposition parties, their links with illegal groups, the parties' regular activities, their efforts to destabilize the Government and their relationship with social organizations; the revelation of these documents led to the resignation of DAS Chief, Ms. María del Pilar Hurtado;

  3. the publication of a letter of 14 June 2007 from Mr. Edwin Armando Sierra Amorocho, Head of the Judicial Police Area of DAS, in which he stated that, in conformity with the decision of the Direction of the Department and in line with the policy of Democratic Security, he was making available the information intercepted between 1 May and 13 June 2007 with respect to Mr. Borja and that this was done to neutralize his possible activities which could affect national security; following the publication of that letter, Colombian President Uribe decided to entrust the National Police, instead of DAS, with telephone interceptions; according to the source, however, the National Police was also guilty in 2007 of illegal eavesdropping; on 12 March 2009, Mr. Borja requested the President of the Supreme Court of Colombia to inform him whether the interceptions had taken place in the context of any legal action against him,
  1. Is shocked at the extremely serious revelations regarding the Administrative Department of Security, showing wilful and repeated efforts by a major State body to undermine the rule of law and respect for basic human rights; 

  2. Is particularly alarmed that the leadership of the very organization responsible for protecting Colombian citizens at risk may be actively engaged in jeopardizing their lives;

  3. Urges the authorities, including parliament through its oversight function, to do everything possible to put an immediate end to these practices, hold those responsible to account and overhaul extensively, if not dismantle, DAS with a view to ensuring that security concerns are effectively addressed by the State of Colombia in full observance of the law; wishes to ascertain what steps are being taken to this end, including with respect to the National Police;

  4. Can but consider that the revelations regarding DAS lend credence to the allegation that a state policy is indeed in place to discredit and target, including by unlawful means, those who vocally oppose the government and that this may well explain the reasons for the investigation and proceedings against Mr. Borja; urges the authorities to refrain from publicly discrediting and, contrary the principle of presumption of innocence, labelling Mr. Borja a FARC associate before any court of law has ruled on such, possibly unfounded, accusations;

  5. Reiterates its wish to be informed of the precise accusations against Mr. Borja, the facts underpinning them, and of the stage reached in the proceedings before the Supreme Court; recalls that, as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, the State of Colombia must guarantee the right to fair trial, which comprises the right to be tried without undue delay; stresses that this right is particularly important in the case of parliamentarians as pending trial proceedings may impair their ability to exercise their mandate freely and effectively;

  6. Remains deeply concerned at the continuing failure to afford Mr. Borja a fully functioning security detail; can but consider in this respect that the failed attempt on his life and the risks he runs show that his protection has to be taken extremely seriously and that, by not addressing his complaints diligently and swiftly, the authorities are putting him at great and unnecessary risk; urges the authorities, and in particular the Colombian Congress, to take immediate steps to ensure that an effective security detail for him and his family is in place at all times;

  7. Regrets that the Congress of Colombia, given its special responsibility to ensure that its members exercise their parliamentary mandate free of any threat or intimidation, has provided no information on the steps it is taking to ensure due administration of justice in all proceedings relating to Mr. Borja, and on the provision of an appropriate security arrangement for him; would appreciate receiving particulars in this respect, including by the Committee on Accusations of the House of Representatives, on the action it has taken on Mr. Borja's complaint;

  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 121st Assembly of the IPU (October 2009).
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