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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. Alvaro Araújo Castro, a former member of the Colombian Congress, 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),

Considering the following new information that the source has made available on Mr. Araújo's health since the Committee took that decision: on 22 July 2010, the director of the penitentiary system, considering that Bogotá’s altitude of 2,600 metres above sea level was not conducive to Mr. Araújo's health, ordered that he be detained instead in Valledupar, the capital of César department; Mr. Araújo affirms that his current detention conditions continue to be bad for his health; in addition to the heat, he points to his poor medical examination facilities, medical attention and diet and to the incapacity of the prison where he is now detained to act swiftly and effectively in the event of an emergency; he emphasizes that his own medical personnel are not allowed to enter the prison and that during the night, in the absence of any guards and telephones in his ward, which at that time is firmly locked, no emergency medical intervention would be possible; between 20 September and 1 October 2010, Mr. Araújo was again hospitalized owing to heart problems; a new medical report on his state of health from the medical authorities is pending,

Considering also that, on 3 August 2010, the Procuraduría cleared Mr. Araújo of the charge that he was associated with paramilitary groups, which decision contradicts the Supreme Court's verdict of 18 March 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. Alvaro Araújo Castro, a former member of the Colombian Congress, and to the resolution adopted by the Governing Council at its 186th session (April 2010),

Recalling that, on 18 March 2010, the Supreme Court concluded that Mr. Araújo had cooperated with paramilitary groups for electoral gain in his department of César and found him guilty, without offering him an opportunity to be heard, of the charges of aggravated criminal conspiracy and electoral coercion, and sentenced him to a prison term of nine years and four months and a fine of 7,222.15 Colombian monthly wages; the Court also considered Mr. Araújo to belong to the hierarchy of the paramilitary group in his department and instructed the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate him in this respect; the Court also decided to investigate the Prosecutor who had previously dismissed a charge of aggravated abduction against Mr. Araújo, considering that she failed to take due account of all the evidence; the source fears that by seeking action against the Prosecutor the Supreme Court will have the possibility, if and when that Prosecutor is held criminally liable, to revive this charge,

Recalling that a legal expert, Mr. Alejandro Salinas, mandated by the Committee to examine the question of respect for the right to fair trial in the case of Mr. Araújo, concluded that the proceedings which led to his conviction were seriously flawed,

Recalling also that Mr. Araújo has always affirmed that there was no evidence to support the charges against him and that scrutiny of his election results confirmed that he neither needed nor had the support of the paramilitary and that on several occasions he took a public stance against the paramilitary,

Recalling finally that on 12 September 2007 Mr. Araújo suffered a stroke and was immediately taken from La Picota prison, where he was being held, to a clinic in Bogotá for treatment; on 22 November 2007, the Prosecutor's Office changed his detention to house arrest on medical grounds; Mr. Araújo was immediately transferred back to La Picota after his conviction on 18 March 2010,

Considering the following information provided by the source regarding new investigations against Mr. Araújo:

  • In March 2010, the Prosecutor's Office initiated an investigation against Mr. Araújo for his alleged responsibility in the murder in 1996, by paramilitaries, of his employee, Mr. Eusebio de Jesús Castro Visbal, following accusations by demobilized paramilitary member Mr. Hernando de Jesús Fontalvo Sánchez, and by Mr. Jesús Castro's wife and son; Mr. Araújo affirms that the former paramilitary member's testimony that Mr. Araújo gave the order for the murder is hearsay and not credible and that the Prosecutor's Office pressured Mr. Jesús Castro's family members, who first, in the presence of the former paramilitary member, denied the veracity of his testimony, into making false accusations against Mr. Araújo; he affirms that he was quick to publicly denounce the murder, went under heavy protection to Mr. Jesús Castro's funeral the following day, and even recently, in 2009, took action to obtain reparation for his family as no such reparation was forthcoming after more than 13 years; Mr. Araújo has written a letter to the Prosecutor of Colombia asking him to examine these matters;

  • In April 2010, an investigation was initiated against Mr. Araújo for the alleged commission of crimes against humanity, as a result of the Supreme Court's decision that he should be investigated in that respect;

  • On 21 May 2010, Mr. Araújo was heard in connection with an investigation into illicit enrichment that also stems from his conviction by the Supreme Court;

  • In April 2010, an investigation was opened against the Prosecutor who had dismissed the original charge of aggravated abduction against Mr. Araújo,
Considering that, on 27 May 2010, Mr. Araújo was taken to a clinic in Bogotá after losing consciousness as a result of a cardiac arrest; Dr. Máximo Alberto Duque Piedrahita, a medical doctor hired by Mr. Araújo, concluded, primarily on the basis of the opinions and diagnoses of the medical specialists who treated Mr. Araújo in the clinic, that the latter was suffering from serious cardiovascular and neurological disorders requiring further medical examination, and that in the past three years his health had steadily declined as a result of those disorders, which situation was bound to continue in the absence of further examination and effective long-term treatment; he concluded that the need for special treatment under strict medical control and specialized emergency equipment for Mr. Araújo was incompatible with life in detention,

Considering that the judge in charge of the execution of sentences reportedly informed Mr. Araújo recently that the two-and-a-half years spent under house arrest would not be deducted from the sentence that the Supreme Court handed down on Mr. Araújo,

Considering furthermore that Mr. Araújo intends to submit his case to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which monitors the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Colombia is a party,

Considering finally that the newly elected Colombian Congress will start its work and elect its presiding officers on 20 July 2010 and that, on 7 August 2010, a new President of Colombia will be sworn in,

  1. Is deeply concerned about Mr. Araújo's precarious and gradually worsening health; can but consider, as pointed out in Dr. Duque Piedrahita's medical opinion, that his serious health condition requires constant and long-term specialized medical care; considers that it falls to the authorities to ensure that he receives this care, failing which they bear responsibility by omission for the lack of improvement in his situation and, worse, for any further, irreparable and possibly fatal damage that may occur; therefore calls on the authorities to do everything possible to provide Mr. Araújo with the necessary medical assistance in an environment conducive to his recovery; wishes to ascertain in detail what steps the authorities are taking for this purpose;

  2. Reaffirms its belief that Mr. Araújo was found guilty following a trial which ran counter to basic principles of due process; remains particularly concerned that Mr. Araújo cannot challenge the judgment on appeal, all the more so since his conviction appears to rely mainly on testimonies of demobilized paramilitary leaders and hypotheses regarding his election results and paramilitary activity and movements in the department of César; is puzzled at the affirmation that Mr. Araújo's time spent in pretrial detention, which the authorities turned into house arrest, would not be taken into account in calculating the duration of his prison sentence; recalls that it is a generally accepted principle in criminal procedure that pretrial detention is deducted from any subsequent final prison sentence; would therefore like to receive clarification from the competent authorities on this point;

  3. Is deeply concerned that Mr. Araújo may yet again be submitted to the same flawed procedure as a result of new investigations conducted by the Supreme Court; is furthermore concerned that the Prosecutor who dismissed the kidnapping charge is herself under investigation; reiterates its wish to receive information on the legal basis for this step; also wishes to ascertain the precise facts supporting the investigations against Mr. Araújo with respect to his alleged responsibility for crimes against humanity; also wishes to know what steps the Prosecutor's Office has taken to look into Mr. Araújo's complaint regarding the investigation into his alleged involvement in the homicide of a former employee;

  4. Considers that the seriousness of this case, the fact that several of the concerns about lack of fair-trial standards are inherent in the procedure applicable to Colombian members of Congress in criminal matters and, therefore, have ramifications far beyond the situation of Mr. Araújo, along with the fact that a new Colombian government and parliament will soon take office, make an on-site mission to Colombia both necessary and timely; reaffirms in this regard that the IPU remains ready to pursue its previous efforts to help advance the public debate in Colombia on the complex and sensitive matter of ensuring appropriate legal protection for members of Congress;

  5. Requests the Secretary General therefore to contact the new parliamentary authorities with a view to organizing an on-site mission entrusted with discussing with the highest parliamentary, governmental and judicial authorities, as well as with Mr. Araújo, competent lawyers and human rights organizations, how to make progress in addressing the specific and underlying concerns in this case; is confident that the new Congress will respond favourably to this request and make every effort to ensure that the mission can proceed as early as possible;

  6. Requests the Secretary General to make available to the United Nations Human Rights Committee the information it has on file in this case should Mr. Araújo refer his situation to that Committee; also requests him to raise Mr. Araújo's case with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of the Judiciary;

  7. Requests the Secretary General to convey this decision to the competent Colombian authorities and to the source;

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