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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 190th session
(Kampala, 5 April 2012)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Ms. Piedad Córdoba, a former member of the Colombian Senate, and to the resolution adopted at its 189th session (October 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, had 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 case file, so that the Attorney General’s Office could decide whether or not to institute a disciplinary investigation against her; that decision was taken 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 Ms. Córdoba lost her Senate seat;

  • 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,
Considering that the Council of State agreed on 21 November 2011 to examine Ms. Córdoba’s request for annulment of the decision to disbar her but rejected her request that the disbarment be suspended until it had ruled on the request for annulment,

                   Recalling that Ms. Córdoba was disbarred inter alia on the basis of incriminating material alleged to have been found in the computers of a high-ranking FARC member, Mr. Raúl Reyes, and that, 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 that Article 23(2) of the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, on respect for the exercise of political rights, stipulates: "The law may regulate the exercise of the rights […] only on the basis of age, nationality, residence, language, education, civil and mental capacity, or sentencing by a competent court in criminal proceedings",

Recalling that an IPU mission travelled to Bogotá in August 2011 to help strengthen the National Congress of Colombia and, as part of that assignment, formulated recommendations, including that the Attorney General should be divested of the power to revoke the parliamentary mandate as a disciplinary sanction,

  1. Reaffirms 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 political rights and the right to a fair trial;

  2. Is concerned that, 15 months after Ms. Córdoba was disbarred, her appeal has yet to be heard in full by the Council of State; observes that the longer this situation lasts, the less meaningful is the remedy she seeks, which is to be allowed to serve out the remainder of her term of office; considers the hearing of her appeal to be all the more pressing in the light of the Supreme Court’s conclusions regarding an important item of evidence against Ms. Córdoba, which cast doubt on the original justification for disbarring her;

  3. 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 Supreme Court’s conclusions and to the other concerns arising in this case;

  4. Reaffirms its belief that this case highlights the need to modify existing legislation with respect to disciplinary proceedings against members of Congress with a view to bringing it in line with relevant international and regional standards; 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 any major developments in this respect;

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

  6. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and to report to it at its next session, to be held during the 127th IPU Assembly (October 2012).
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