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

Taking into account the information provided by the competent authorities 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 information regarding the death threats received by incumbent members of Congress of the Alternative Democratic Pole since 2010:

  • 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 the problem of land dispossession that was to be broadcast live across the country on 18 August 2010;

  • 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 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 alleged 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 that 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 the tape had been reused;

  • 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;

  • On 4 July 2012, a threat was sent by e-mail to Mr. Cepeda and others in connection with their work to promote the restitution of land, with those expressing the threat accusing them of expelling the true owners,

Recalling the following information on file: the then acting Chief Prosecutor stated in October 2010 that all 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 all 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 the Chief Prosecutor informed the Committee’s Vice-President during the latter’s visit to Colombia in March 2013 that his Office was doing everything possible to hold the culprits of threats against members of the opposition to account,

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

  2. Remains alarmed at the constant threats Mr. Cepeda faces in carrying out his work as a member of Congress;

  3. 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 again shown;

  4. Trusts that the authorities have taken immediate steps to ensure that Mr. Cepeda and those assisting him in his work as a member of Congress are provided with an effective security detail; wishes to receive confirmation on this point;

  5. 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 security guards 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 run by the competent authorities, cast extremely serious doubt on the authorities’ capacity, if not willingness, to protect the basic right to life;

  6. Is pleased that the current Chief Prosecutor is fully committed to ensuring that the threats against members of Congress belonging to the Alternative Democratic Pole do not go unpunished; remains concerned, however, that there is no information on file indicating that any of the culprits have been identified and held to account; wishes to know what recent steps the Prosecutor’s Office has taken to promote accountability;

  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 back to it in due course.
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