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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 cases of Mr. Iván Cepeda Castro, Mr. Alexander López, Mr. Jorge Enrique Robledo, Mr. Guillermo Alfonso Jaramillo and Mr. Wilson Árias Castillo, members of the Colombian Congress from the opposition party Polo Democrático Alternativo (Alternative Democratic Pole), and to the resolution adopted at its 189th session (October 2011),

Taking into account information provided by the source on 10 February 2012,

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

  • On 10 April 2010, a public communiqué issued by an illegal group known as Los rastrojos - comandos urbanos, declared Senators López, Robledo and 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 López and Congressman Árias to be permanent military targets;

  • In early June 2010, it became known that a group of hitmen linked to paramilitary groups intended to assassinate Mr. Cepeda, a member of the Colombian Congress and son of Senator Manuel Cepeda, who was assassinated in 1994; on 13 August 2010, an illegal group called Águilas negras issued a pamphlet threatening Mr. Cepeda and others who were helping to organize a debate in Congress, on 18 August 2010, on the problem of land dispossession that was going to be broadcast live across the country,
Recalling that, in October 2010, the then acting Public Prosecutor stated 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 at 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 by Los rastrojos - comandos urbanos against Senators López, Robledo and Jaramillo were both the subject of ongoing criminal investigations; from the report of the Prosecutor’s Office of 6 July 2011, it appears that Senator Robledo was provided with security and that the authorities concluded that no criminal organization called Los rastrojos existed and ruled out the possibility that the threat came from a criminal organization,

Considering that, on 2 June 2011 Los rastrojos - comandos urbanos issued a statement threatening several human rights organizations and defenders, including Mr. Cepeda and his legislative assistant, Ms. Ana Jimena Bautista Revelo; around that time, Águilas negras also mentioned both Mr. Cepeda and Ms. Bautista in a statement giving them 20 days in which to leave Bogotá or face death; both threats were brought to the attention of the Prosecutor’s Office; as part of his visits to detention centres, Mr. Cepeda went to the prison in Valledupar on 22 May 2011; on 13 June 2011, he received a letter from an inmate of that prison stating that he had been incited to stab Mr. Cepeda during the latter’s visit; the inmate alleges that the two officers entrusted with Mr. Cepeda’s security on that occasion gave him a knife and offered him better prison conditions in return for assassinating Mr. Cepeda, which he refused to do; it appears that the inmate was subsequently the victim of an attempt on his life which left him injured; it also appears that, days after Mr. Cepeda’s prison visit, the videotape of the visit was erased, the Director of the Valledupar prison reportedly stating that it had been reused,

Considering that, according to the source, Mr. Cepeda’s work as a congressman has been increasingly stigmatized since early 2010 in the media; in several instances he has been labelled a friend of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), in particular by former President Uribe and people from within his circle; on 10 September 2011, a fake Twitter account was set up in Mr. Cepeda’s name, presenting him as a FARC friend seeking evidence of Mr. Uribe’s links to paramilitary groups; according to the latest information provided by the source, Mr. Cepeda, who has been at the forefront in addressing specific cases of forced displacement, is now the subject of a disciplinary complaint to the Attorney General alleging that he brought about the invasion of the hacienda "Las Pavas", in Bolívar department, when in fact he accompanied the peaceful return on 4 April 2011 of over a hundred families to the lands from which they had been forcibly displaced, a matter which he raised the following day in Congress with the request that the competent authorities conduct a proper investigation to identify those responsible for the families' displacement,

  1. Is alarmed at the growing threats Mr. Cepeda faces in carrying out his work as a member of Congress;

  2. Considers that the risks Mr. Cepeda has incurred as a long-standing critical voice in Colombia have to be taken extremely seriously, as the failed attempt on his life less than a year ago has once more shown;

  3. Urges the authorities, therefore, to take immediate steps to ensure that an effective security detail is in place for Mr. Cepeda and those assisting him in his work as a member of Congress; wishes to receive confirmation that such steps have indeed been taken;

  4. Also urges the authorities to establish full accountability for the failed attempt on Mr. Cepeda's life and the attack on the inmate who refused to execute it; remains particularly eager to receive confirmation that action has been taken against the two security guards and to know what evidence has been collected to help identify the instigators of these crimes; reaffirms in this respect that the alleged involvement in the attempt on Mr. Cepeda’s life of two officers, apparently picked by the authorities to ensure his protection, and the allegations that this crime, in common with the subsequent retaliation against the inmate, took place on premises which are run by the competent authorities, cast extremely serious doubts on the authorities’ capacity, if not willingness, to protect the basic right to life;

  5. Remains concerned that the information provided on the investigations of the Prosecutor’s Office into previous threats against Mr. Cepeda and his Alternative Democratic Pole colleagues in Congress show that none of the culprits have as yet been identified and held to account;

  6. Calls on the competent authorities to fulfil their duty to conduct an effective investigation into these threats, in particular those received by Mr. Cepeda and a legislative assistant; fails to understand how the Prosecutor’s Office can have concluded that the organization calling itself Los rastrojos - comandos urbanos, which has been the source of multiple threats, does not exist; wishes to receive clarification on this point along with specific information on progress made in the investigations;

  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 to report to it at its next session, to be held during the 127th IPU Assembly (October 2012).
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