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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 189th session
(Bern, 19 October 2011)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Ms. Piedad Córdoba, a former member of the Colombian Senate, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/189/11(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 188th session (April 2011),

Taking into account the communication of the Deputy Attorney General of Colombia, dated 12 April 2011,

Recalling the following sequence of events:

  • In July 2008 the Supreme Court opened a preliminary investigation into allegations that Ms. Córdoba, who was a Senator at the time, maintained illegal ties with Colombia’s main guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC); the investigation is still ongoing;

  • During the investigation, the Supreme Court provided the Attorney General’s Office with a copy of the documentation for it to 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 Ms. Córdoba had promoted and worked with FARC and, as a disciplinary sanction, disbarred her from holding public office for 18 years; on 27 October 2010, the Attorney General ratified the decision of his Office, as a result of which she lost her seat in Parliament;

  • Ms. Córdoba has affirmed from the outset that the disbarment amounts to political persecution and that there is no proof to substantiate the decision; she has challenged the disbarment before the Council of State, which action is pending,
Considering that on 11 July 2011 the Council of State dismissed Ms. Córdoba’s request that the Attorney General’s decision to disbar her be suspended until the Council had ruled on the general petition,

Considering that part of the justification to disbar Ms. Córdoba is based on allegedly incriminating material found in the computers of a high-ranking FARC member, Mr. Raúl Reyes; on 19 May 2011, the Supreme Court ruled in a criminal investigation against Mr. Wilson Borja that official protocol requirements to protect the material had not been followed and that, since there was no guarantee that the material had not been tampered with, it could not be relied on in court,

Considering furthermore that Article 23(2) of the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, dealing with respect for the exercise of one’s political rights, stipulates that "The law may regulate the exercise … only on the basis of age, nationality, residence, language, education, civil and mental capacity, or sentencing by a competent court in criminal proceedings",

Considering finally that an IPU mission travelled to Bogotá in August 2011 to assist the Parliament of Colombia in strengthening its work and, as part of that assignment, has formulated recommendations, including the suggestion that the Attorney General should be divested of the power to revoke the parliamentary mandate as a disciplinary sanction; considering also that several voices in the Parliament of Colombia are proposing such a measure, possibly as part of the pending judicial reform bill,

  1. Thanks the Deputy Attorney General for her extensive communication;

  2. Affirms, however, that the arguments she puts forward do not alter its view that Ms. Córdoba was 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, the exercise of one’s political rights and the right to a fair trial;

  3. Is concerned that, a year after Ms. Córdoba was disbarred, her appeal has yet to be heard by the Council of State; observes that the longer this situation continues the less meaningful is the remedy she seeks, which is to be allowed to serve out the remainder of her parliamentary mandate; considers the hearing of her appeal to be all the more pressing in the light of the conclusions of the Supreme Court regarding an important part of the evidence against Ms. Córdoba which cast doubt on the original justification for disbarring her;

  4. Trusts therefore that the Council of State will rule on Ms. Córdoba’s appeal as a matter of urgency and will give due attention to the conclusions of the Supreme Court, along with the other concerns arising in this case; and requests the Secretary General once more to continue exploring the possibility of sending an observer to the proceedings of the Council of State with a view to gathering first-hand information in this regard;

  5. Reaffirms its belief that this case highlights the need to modify existing legislation with respect to disciplinary proceedings against parliamentarians with a view to bringing it into line with relevant international and regional standards; takes note with interest of the support increasingly voiced in Parliament and the recommendation made by the IPU mission in favour of such a modification; expresses the hope therefore that new legislation will indeed be adopted soon to eliminate the powers of the Attorney General to revoke a parliamentary mandate as a disciplinary sanction; wishes to be kept informed of important developments in this respect;

  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 during the 126th IPU Assembly (March/April 2012).
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