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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 Mr. Iván Cepeda Castro, Mr. Alexander López, Mr. Jorge Enrique Robledo, Mr. Guillermo Alfonso Jaramillo and Mr. Wilson Arias Castillo, members of the Colombian Congress for the opposition party Polo Democrático Alternativo (Alternative Democratic Pole), 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 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 into account of the report of 12 January 2011 of the Prosecutor's Office,

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 that, in the course of 2010, several local leaders of the Alternative Democratic Pole were murdered, that national leaders received death threats, including the five incumbent Congress members of that party:

  • On 10 April 2010, a public communiqué issued by the illegal group known as Los rastrojos - comandos urbanos, declared Senators Alexander López, Jorge Enrique Robledo and Guillermo Alfonso Jaramillo to be enemies and hence permanent military targets;

  • In a communiqué dated 4 June 2010, the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC), Central Bloc, declared Senator Alexander López and Congress member Wilson Arias Castillo to be permanent military targets;

  • In early June 2010, it became known that a group of hit men linked to paramilitary groups intended to carry out an attempt on the life of Mr. Iván Cepeda, a member of the Colombian Congress and son of Senator Manuel Cepeda, who was assassinated in 1994; the source affirms that this plan had to be viewed in the context of the growing threats against him and MOVICE (National Movement of Victims of State Crimes), of which he is a major leader; on 13 August 2010, the illegal group Águilas negras put out a pamphlet threatening Mr. Iván Cepeda and others who took part in organizing a debate in Congress, on 18 August 2010, on the problem of land dispossession that was going to be broadcast live countrywide,
Considering the following information with respect to their protection:
  • The Director of the Human Rights Programme of the Ministry of the Interior stated at the meeting held with the on-site mission that, on 11 October 2010, she was going to meet with the Alternative Democratic Pole to discuss the question of protection for its members;

  • Following the threats against MOVICE members, adequate protection was swiftly put in place for Mr. Cepeda;

  • Mr. Wilson Arias Castillo has complained to the authorities that his request for effective security has not been met; in its report of 12 January 2011, the Prosecutor's Office makes no reference to this matter, but does mention that the Office sent an extensive self-protection manual to Senators Alexander López, Jorge Enrique Robledo and Guillermo Alfonso Jaramillo, and to the Office of the Alternative Democratic Pole,
Considering furthermore that the then acting Public Prosecutor told the on-site mission that all the threats against members of the Alternative Democratic Pole were being investigated with the utmost diligence, but that it was often very difficult to lay hands on those responsible since they were experts in covering up their identity and whereabouts; in its report of 12 January 2011, the Prosecutor's Office affirmed that the threats issued by Águilas negras against Mr. Cepeda and the threats issued by Los rastrojos - comandos urbanos against Senators Alexander López, Jorge Enrique Robledo and Guillermo Alfonso Jaramillo were both the subject of ongoing criminal investigations,
  1. Thanks the Colombian authorities for hosting the mission and making the necessary arrangements to enable it to carry out its mandate; also thanks the Prosecutor's Office for the information on the latest developments in this case;

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

  3. Expresses alarm at the multiple death threats against members of Congress belonging to the Alternative Democratic Pole, which situation not only affects their individual physical integrity but also stands as a threat to the work of the political opposition as such and the proper functioning of Parliament as a whole; stresses the delegation's final remarks that the case of the Patriotic Union party shows very well how political persecution can take shape and spread, and with what consequences, if it is not brought to an immediate and effective end; observes with concern therefore that the death threats against members of Congress belonging to the Alternative Democratic Poleare part of a wider violent attack on that party and its members, shown in its worst form with the growing number of assassinations of local party leaders, and that this violence emanates once again from self-claimed paramilitary groups which also gave rise to the Patriotic Union case;

  4. Considers therefore that the authorities have to take the incidents targeting the Alternative Democratic Poleall the more seriously and to investigate them, as is their duty, with the utmost determination and diligence, accompanied by decisive action to reverse the resurgence of illegally armed groups; takes note in this respect of the information provided by the authorities on the investigations into two of the death threats; trusts that they are likewise pursuing investigations into the plan to kill Mr. Iván Cepeda and the threats issued in June 2010 by the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia, Central Bloc, against Mr. Alexander López and Mr. Wilson Arias Castillo; observes that the fact that individual groups have directly claimed responsibility for many of these incidents should allow the competent authorities to make at least some progress towards holding the culprits to account; would appreciate hearing from the Public Prosecutor of Colombia about any tangible progress made on this point;

  5. Is concerned that Mr. Arias Castillo's requests to the competent authorities for adequate security were apparently disregarded; can but consider that such requests have to be taken extremely seriously and that, by not addressing his complaints diligently and swiftly, the authorities would be putting Mr. Arias Castillo at great and unnecessary risk; calls on the Ministry of the Interior to ensure that an effective security detail is in place for him; would appreciate receiving confirmation that such action has indeed been taken;

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

  7. 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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