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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 Mr. Álvaro Araújo Castro, a former member of the Colombian Congress, and to the resolution adopted at its 189th session (October 2011),

Recalling its persistent concern that, as a result of fundamentally flawed proceedings and in the absence of any compelling evidence, the Supreme Court, in a ruling issued on 18 March 2010, found Mr. Araújo guilty of aggravated criminal conspiracy and coercion of voters on the grounds that he had cooperated with paramilitary groups for electoral gain, sentenced him to a prison term of 112 months and ordered him to pay a fine (Mr. Araújo, who had been in detention and under house arrest since 15 February 2007, was released in early February 2011 after having served three fifths of his sentence),

Also recalling that, in the same ruling, the Supreme Court ordered that an investigation be conducted to establish whether or not Mr. Araújo could be considered part of the paramilitary command and therefore to share responsibility for the crimes against humanity they committed; as with the original charges, both the investigation and any subsequent trial on this matter are entrusted to the Supreme Court, whose ruling would not be subject to appeal,

Further recalling that, in March 2010, the Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation into Mr. Araújo’s alleged responsibility in the 1996 murder, at the hands of paramilitaries, of his employee, Mr. Eusebio de Jesús Castro Visbal; the then acting Public Prosecutor provided information in October 2010 to the effect that the investigation would be discontinued; however, according to the source’s communication of 26 January 2011, the investigation was ongoing,

Considering that a legislative initiative for judicial reform, which is pending in the Colombian Congress, proposes the establishment of an appeal instance in the procedure applicable to members of Congress in criminal cases and clearly separates those in charge of investigating a case from those ruling on it; considering 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 a series of recommendations, including with a view to helping ensure greater respect for fair-trial standards in criminal cases against members of Congress,

  1. Reaffirms its belief that, so long as basic fair-trial concerns are not addressed and compelling evidence to justify the lesser charges on which Mr. Araújo was convicted does not exist, an investigation before the Supreme Court with regard to his potential responsibility for crimes against humanity committed by paramilitary groups is misguided; under the current circumstances, therefore, sincerely hopes that the investigation will be discontinued; would appreciate receiving the observations of the Supreme Court on the prospects for discontinuation of the investigation along with information on the current status thereof;

  2. Remains convinced that the concerns about the lack of fair-trial standards inherent in the procedure applicable to Colombian members of Congress in criminal matters can only be fully addressed through new legislation; expresses the hope, therefore, that the reform bill to be adopted will indeed provide for a genuine separation between the investigating authorities and the courts and a real possibility for members of Congress to appeal; wishes to be kept informed in this regard, in particular inasmuch as the reform concerns the implementation of recommendations made by the IPU mission;

  3. Reiterates its wish, in the light of the conflicting information received from the authorities and the source regarding the investigation into Mr. Araújo’s alleged involvement in the murder of one of his employees, to ascertain from the authorities whether an official investigation is indeed ongoing and, if so, on what basis;

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

  5. 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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