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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 192nd session
(Quito, 27 March 2013)

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 it adopted at its 190th session (April 2012),

Taking into account the information provided by the competent authorities, including the Office of the Prosecutor General and the Procuradoría, to Senator Juan Pablo Letelier, Vice-President of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, during his visit to Colombia on 20 and 21 March 2013,

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 to Colombia’s main guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC);

  • During the investigation, the Supreme Court provided the Procuradoría with a copy of the case file, so that the Procuradoría could decide whether or not to institute a disciplinary investigation against her; that decision was taken in June 2009;

  • On 27 September 2010, the Procuradoría concluded that Ms. Córdoba had promoted and worked with the FARC and, as a disciplinary sanction, barred her from holding public office for 18 years; on 27 October 2010, the Procurador 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 challenged the disbarment before the Council of State, which on 21 November 2011 agreed to examine her 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;

  • Ms. Córdoba also challenged her disbarment before the Bogotá Tribunal superior and the Supreme Court, both of which dismissed the challenge; Ms. Córdoba has filed a writ for protection of constitutional rights before the Constitutional Court, which is expected to rule in the first half of 2013 on the question of whether those dismissals were in accordance with the law,
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 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 Procurador should be divested of the power to revoke the parliamentary mandate as a disciplinary sanction,

Recalling that the current Procurador, after he was first elected, publicly questioned his competence under the Constitution to disbar members of Congress on disciplinary grounds,

  1. Thanks the competent Colombian authorities for their cooperation and for receiving the Committee’s Vice-President;

  2. 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;

  3. Is concerned that, two and a half years after Ms. Córdoba was disbarred, the Council of State has yet to rule on her challenge; observes that, as a result of this delay, the remedy she seeks, which is to be allowed to serve out the remainder of her term of office, is becoming increasingly meaningless; considers furthermore that a decision on her challenge is all the more pressing in the light of the Supreme Court’s conclusions regarding an important item of evidence in the case against her, which cast doubt on the original justification for disbarring her; urges the Council of State to adopt its views on the challenge as a matter of priority;

  4. Trusts that the Constitutional Court will also rule on Ms. Córdoba’s petition as a matter of urgency, taking due account of the Supreme Court’s conclusions and of the other concerns in this case;

  5. 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; is aware that enhanced legal protection for members of Congress is a very sensitive subject in Colombia as it is easily perceived as unduly serving the interest of its members; expresses the hope, therefore, that the National Congress, with the support of the relevant executive, judicial and administrative authorities, will come out in support of new legislation to eliminate the Procurador’s authority to revoke a parliamentary mandate as a disciplinary sanction;

  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 to report to it in due course.
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