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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 187th session
(Geneva, 6 October 2010)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. Luis Carlos Galán Sarmiento, a member of the Colombian Senate and the New Liberalism party’s candidate in the presidential elections who was murdered at a political rally on 18 August 1989 in the main square of Soacha municipality, department of Cundinamarca, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/187/12(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 186th session (April 2010),

Referring also to the decision adopted by the Committee at its 130th session (July 2010),

  1. Endorses the views of the Committee as expressed in its decision of July 2010;

  2. Is gratified that the parliamentary authorities have agreed to the proposed on-site mission that will visit Colombia from 9 to 12 October 2010 with the mandate to promote progress in addressing the specific concerns in this case;

  3. Requests the Committee to continue examining the case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 124th IPU Assembly (April 2011), in the light of the mission's report and of such observations as the Colombian authorities and the source may meanwhile have made thereon.

Decision adopted by the Committee at its 130th session
(Geneva, 12 - 15 July 2010)

The Committee,

Referring to the case of Mr. Luis Carlos Galán Sarmiento, a member of the Colombian Senate and the New Liberalism party’s candidate in the presidential elections who was murdered at a political rally on 18 August 1989 in the main square of Soacha municipality, department of Cundinamarca, and to the resolution adopted by the Governing Council at its 186th session (April 2010),

Taking into account the communications from the Deputy Minister of the Interior and from the Prosecutor’s Office dated 22 June and 15 April 2010, respectively,

Recalling the following information on file:

  • The source affirms that Mr. Alberto Santofimio Botero, a politician from Tolima and member of the political wing of the Medellín cartel, was one of the masterminds of the murder; his first-instance guilty verdict was quashed in October 2008 by the High Court of Cundinamarca, which acquitted him; the Procuraduría and Mr. Galán’s family, as the complainant in the proceedings, have filed a cassation petition with the Supreme Court; in August 2009, the Supreme Court entrusted one of its magistrates with preparing the case for deliberation;

  • On 18 August 2009 General Miguel Maza Márquez, a former Director of the Administrative Department of Security (DAS), was arrested on accusations of involvement in Senator Galán's murder;

  • On 25 November 2009 the Procurador, who had formed a special team to conduct the investigations into the murder, requested the Prosecutor's Office to extend the investigation to retired General Oscar Peláez Carmona, who was the Chief of the Criminal Investigation Department at the time and had allegedly acted in complicity with General Maza in misleading and obstructing the original investigation;

  • The source and the prosecuting authorities argue that the murder was part of a pattern of persecution of members of Senator Galán's party, and hence a crime against humanity, which would mean that the statute of limitations of 20 years to which the crime of murder is subject in Colombia would not apply;

  • The National Police of Colombia, in its report of 23 November 2006, concluded that Senator Juan Manuel Galán, who was spearheading efforts to obtain justice in the case of his father's murder, was at exceptional risk; the National Police and the Prosecutor's Office are investigating an anonymous threat according to which an attempt will be made on Senator Galán’s life; the source affirms that numerous earlier requests for protection had gone unheeded,
Considering the following new information:
  • On 6 April 2010, the Chief Prosecutor of Colombia, after taking direct control of the case, ordered General Maza's release and on 22 June 2010 transferred the case back to the Prosecutor’s National Human Rights Unit;

  • In her letter of 22 June 2010, the Deputy Minister of the Interior provided a detailed description of the security detail which her Ministry and the National Congress of Colombia, together with the National Police, had assigned to Senator Juan Manuel Galán and his family;

  • In April 2010, the Prosecutor's Office reported that three persons presumed to be responsible for the anonymous threat had been identified and accused,
  1. Thanks the Deputy Minister of the Interior and the Prosecutor's Office for their communications and cooperation;

  2. Takes note with satisfaction of the extensive protection measures put in place for Senator Juan Manuel Galán and his family; trusts that regular consultations are taking place to review the effectiveness of these measures and that swift action is taken to remedy any deficiencies that may be reported;

  3. Is pleased at the progress made in identifying those presumed to be responsible for the threat to assassinate Senator Juan Manuel Galán; trusts that the Prosecutor's Office will soon be able to bring the matter to trial; wishes to ascertain whether the accused are at the disposal of the judicial authorities, whether they are considered to be the presumed instigators or perpetrators, whether they have been formally charged and, if so, when trial proceedings are expected to begin;

  4. Is deeply concerned that the initially robust investigation into the possible implication of General Maza in Senator Luis Carlos Galán's murder appears to have lost impetus; fails to understand why the Chief Prosecutor of Colombia decided to take personal charge of this investigation only to order General Maza's provisional release and then hand the file back to the Prosecutor's Unit originally responsible for the investigation;

  5. Reaffirms its belief that the serious suspicion that a retired general and former director of one of Colombia's prominent State law and order institutions is implicated in this high-profile crime should prompt the authorities to do their utmost to shed full light on the matter and establish accountability; therefore calls on the Prosecutor’s Office to proceed swiftly with the investigation and to decide with the utmost urgency, giving due consideration to the extensive information on file, whether or not to bring formal charges against General Maza; reiterates its wish to know whether the Prosecutor's Office is also focusing on the possible involvement of General Peláez and when the courts are due to rule on the question of Senator Galán’s murder being qualified as a crime against humanity; also wishes to know what recent steps the Procuraduría has taken to give priority to this case;

  6. Sincerely hopes that the Supreme Court magistrate entrusted with the cassation petition regarding Mr. Santofimio will soon bring the matter before the full Court; would appreciate receiving a copy of the ruling when it becomes available;

  7. Considers that, with a new government and parliament shortly to be proclaimed in Colombia, an on-site mission to Colombia would be very timely for progressing in the matters pending in this case; consequently invites the Secretary General to establish contact with the authorities of the new Parliament with a view to organizing an on-site mission instructed, for the aforesaid purpose, to meet with the highest-level parliamentary, governmental and judicial authorities and with the source; is confident that the new Congress will respond favourably to this request and do its utmost to ensure that the mission can proceed as soon as possible;

  8. Requests the Secretary General to inform the competent Colombian authorities and the source of this decision;

  9. Decides to continue examining this case at its next session, to be held during the 123rd IPU Assembly (October 2010).
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