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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 194th session
(Geneva, 20 March 2014)

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 192nd session (March 2013),

Recalling the following information regarding the death threats received by members of Congress of the Alternative Democratic Pole until 2012:

  • 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 June 2010, it became known that a group of hitmen linked to paramilitary groups intended to assassinate Mr. Iván 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;

  • 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;

  • 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,
Considering the following new information provided on threats made since then:
  • In February 2013, an anonymous call was made regarding a plot hatched against Mr. Cepeda, claiming that two brothers, Pedro and Santiago Gallón Henao, had paid an armed group to go to Melgar municipality (Tolima) to prepare an attack on him in Bogotá;

  • In July 2013, a human rights defender and member of the National Movement of Victims of State Crimes, MOVICE, Sucre branch, received a threat directed at various labour and human rights leaders, including Mr. Cepeda, in which the latter is referred to as “the spokesperson and chief ambassador for terrorism in Colombia and a major terrorist”;

  • On 5 August 2013, a threat was sent to Mr. Cepeda’s work e-mail address by “LOS RASTROJOS - COMANDOS URBANOS”; the threat was identified as PUBLIC COMMUNIQUE No. 012 04 of August 2013 and sent from an e-mail address identified as jrojasilva@gmail.com; it contained three points, the second of which identifies as “… military target and permanent enemies of the country a series of people referred to as trade union/guerrilla leaders, and ideologues clothed as lawyers, senators and representatives, the insurgents: ALEXANDER LOPEZ, JORGE ENRIQUE ROBLEDO,… IVAN CEPEDA (emphasis added) …”;

  • Mr. Cepeda was also mentioned as a military target by “the national urban commandos of the Rastrojos” in their PUBLIC COMMUNIQUE No. 18 of 10 September 2013 and PUBLIC COMMUNIQUE of 24 September 2013;

  • On 4 February 2014, Mr. Cepeda and Mr. Alirio Uribe Muñoz, his running-mate for the Chamber of Deputies in the elections of 9 March 2014, were threatened by e-mail by those who called themselves the AGUILAS NEGRAS BLOQUE CAPITAL D.C; in their threat, they tell their two targets that their time has come, that this is the only warning and that they better withdraw from politics and save their lives,
Considering that the source, in his communication of 6 February 2014, stated that Mr. Cepeda has continued to ask the Prosecutor’s Office for guarantees of security and protection of the persons mentioned, with a view to safeguarding their dignity, life and personal, family and collective integrity,

Considering that Mr. Cepeda has always informed the competent national authorities of any threats against them so that they could conduct the necessary investigations; however, in his communication of 6 February 2014, the source points out that only in 2013 was Mr. Cepeda approached about an investigation into a denunciation made in 2008,

Recalling 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;  considering that on 4 February 2014, semana.com (Colombia) published the results of its investigation into the “Andromeda” affair, involving unlawful eavesdropping to uncover the Government’s representatives in the peace process in Havana, including Mr. Cepeda,

Recalling that the acting Chief Prosecutor of Colombia 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; recalling also that the current Chief Prosecutor stated to Senator Juan Pablo Letelier, then Committee 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,

Considering that the Procuraduría has reportedly opened two disciplinary procedures against Mr. Cepeda; according to the source, the first one concerns Mr. Cepeda’s efforts to accompany the displaced victims of violence returning to their land in Las Pavas community; the other investigation is reportedly based on the investigations conducted by Mr. Cepeda into the denunciations for paramilitarism against former president Álvaro Uribe Vélez; according to the source, this disciplinary procedure is based on two supposed faults, the first for procedural fraud and the second for overstepping and usurping duties; in view of the above and, given the seriousness of the situation, a petition for a temporary injunction [solicitud de medida cautelar] has been filed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in order to stop the procedures that could end up curtailing Mr. Cepeda’s political life. At the same time, a suit has been filed charging the Colombian State with violating Article 23 of the American Convention on Human Rights, in that it permitted an administrative authority to investigate authorities or public servants elected by the people and possibly to sanction them with removal from office. The suit also refers to Articles 8, 16, 25 and others on political rights and due process,

Considering finally that parliamentary elections took place in Colombia on 9 March 2014 and that Mr. Cepeda, Mr. Robledo and Mr. López were elected to the Senate and Mr. Arias to the House of Representatives,

  1. Is alarmed at the repeated death threats directed against members of the opposition, in particular Mr. Cepeda;

  2. Considers that the risks Mr. Cepeda has incurred as a long-standing critical voice in Colombia have to be taken extremely seriously and that the authorities should do everything possible to ensure that he will not suffer the same fate as his father;

  3. Is therefore deeply concerned at the absence of any information indicating that full-scale investigations are under way and results have been obtained to establish accountability; fears that, if correct, the allegation that Mr. Cepeda was allegedly contacted about an investigation into a specific threat only five years after he received it may well highlight that effective investigations are lacking;

  4. Reaffirms its belief that it is the duty of the Colombian authorities to do everything possible to ensure that the threats against Mr. Cepeda and the other members of the Alternative Democratic Pole do not go unpunished and urges them therefore to take effective steps towards identifying and holding to account the culprits; wishes to know what recent steps the Prosecutor General’s Office has taken in this regard, including with regard to shedding full light on the failed attempt on Mr. Cepeda’s life in 2011;

  5. Calls on the competent authorities to ensure without delay that an effective security detail is in place for Mr. Cepeda and his legislative team, as well as for the other parliamentarians of the Alternative Democratic Pole who have received death threats; wishes to receive official information on this point;

  6. Considers that the protection of the physical integrity and the ability of members of the opposition to carry out their work without fear of reprisals should be of direct concern to the Colombian Congress; calls therefore on the newly elected Colombian Congress to use fully its constitutional powers to address the concerns that have arisen in this case;

  7. Is eager to understand the legal grounds and facts underpinning the two disciplinary investigations initiated against Mr. Cepeda; would appreciate therefore receiving the observations of the Procuraduría on this matter; wishes to be kept informed of the ongoing legal challenges in the investigations brought before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Colombian courts;

  8. Considers that a follow-up visit to Colombia by a Committee delegation would help to promote further progress in addressing the issues which have arisen in this case; requests the Secretary General therefore to make the necessary arrangements for this purpose;

  9. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the competent Colombian authorities, the source and any third party likely to be in a position to supply relevant information;

  10. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and to report back to it in due course.

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