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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 188th session
(Panama, 20 April 2011)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Having before it the case of Ms. Piedad Córdoba, a former member of the Senate of Colombia, 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 Inter-Parliamentary Union of communications concerning violations of the human rights of members of parliament,

Having also before it the written report of the on-site mission which the Committee carried out to Colombia from 9 to 13 October 2010 (CL/188/13(b)-R.2),

Taking note of the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, which contains a detailed outline of the case (CL/188/13(b)-R.1),

Considering the following sequence of events:

  • In July 2008, the Supreme Court opened a preliminary investigation into allegations that then Senator Córdoba maintained illegal ties with Colombia's main guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which investigation continues to date;

  • While this investigation was ongoing, the Supreme Court provided the Procuraduría (Attorney General’s Office) with a copy of the documentation in order that it might decide whether or not to institute a disciplinary investigation against her, which decision it took in June 2009

  • On 27 September 2010, the Attorney General’s Office concluded that then Senator Córdoba had promoted and worked with FARC and, as a disciplinary sanction, expelled her from Parliament and prohibited her from holding any public office for 18 years;

  • On 27 October 2010, the Attorney General ratified the decision of his Office, as a result of which Senator Córdoba lost her seat in the Parliament of Colombia;

  • Ms. Córdoba has challenged her disbarment before the Council of State, which petition is pending,
Considering that the source has affirmed from the outset that Ms. Córdoba's disbarment amounts to political persecution and that there is no proof to substantiate the decision,
  1. Thanks the Colombian authorities for hosting the mission and making the necessary arrangements to enable it to carry out its mandate;

  2. Commends the delegation for its work and fully endorses the findings and recommendations contained in the report;

  3. Is appalled that Ms. Córdoba has been barred from politics, thus depriving her electorate of its voice in parliament as a result of a decision and on the basis of a procedure both of which breach basic international standards regarding respect for the parliamentary mandate and the right to a fair trial;

  4. Points out the following in this respect: (i) when parliamentarians outside Colombia are submitted to disciplinary sanctions, these are without exception applied by the parliament concerned and with a limited effect in time; (ii) the decision to bar Ms. Córdoba from holding any public office was taken although the Supreme Court had not yet ruled - on the basis of the same facts and events - whether her conduct was reprehensible, and therefore bypassed the route that national jurisdictions would normally follow in establishing legal responsibility; (iii) the decision is disproportionate and unjustifiable since the facts and arguments relied on fail to dispel the suspicion that she was punished for what should rather be seen as a political activity; (iv) Ms. Córdoba lacks the possibility of a full appeal as it was the Attorney General’s Office that took the first decision, which, on being ratified by the Attorney General himself, still within the same institution, can only be appealed against in the Council of State, which does not examine the substance of the matter but merely checks whether the decision is in accordance with the law;

  5. Decides, as recommended in the mission report, to explore the possibility of sending an observer to the proceedings of the Council of State with a view to gathering first-hand information on the extent to which the present concerns are being addressed at final instance;

  6. Notes the report's observation that the case raises serious doubts about the appropriateness of making the Attorney General’s Office competent to revoke a parliamentary mandate; expresses the hope that this issue will be included in the political debate on reform of the justice system which is under way in Colombia;

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

  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 125th IPU Assembly (October 2011).
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