1.                 The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights continues its practice of including in its Annual Report to the General Assembly of the Organization of American States a chapter on the situation of human rights in member countries of the Organization, based on the competence assigned to it by the OAS Charter, the American Convention on Human Rights, and the Commission's Statute and Rules of Procedure.  This practice has served the purpose of providing the OAS updated information on the human rights situation in those countries that had been the subject of the Commission's special attention; and in some cases, to report on a particular event that had taken place or was emerging or developing at the close of its reporting cycle. 


2.                 The Annual Report of the IACHR for 1997 set forth five criteria pre-established by the Commission to identify the member states of the OAS whose human rights practices merited special attention and which consequently should be included in its Chapter IV. 


1.       The first criterion encompasses those states ruled by governments that have not come to power through popular elections, by secret, genuine, periodic, and free suffrage, according to internationally accepted standards and principles.  The Commission has repeatedly pointed out that representative democracy and its mechanisms are essential for achieving the rule of law and respect for human rights.  As for those states that do not observe the political rights enshrined in the American Declaration and the American Convention, the Commission fulfills its duty to inform the other OAS members states as to the human rights situation of the population.


2.       The second criterion concerns states where the free exercise of the rights set forth in the American Convention or American Declaration have been, in effect, suspended totally or in part, by virtue of the imposition of exceptional measures, such as state of emergency, state of siege, suspension of guarantees, or exceptional security measures, and the like. 


3.       The third criterion to justify the inclusion in this chapter of a particular state is when there is clear and convincing evidence that a state commits massive and grave violations of the human rights guaranteed in the American Convention, the American Declaration, and all other applicable human rights instruments.  In so doing, the Commission highlights the fundamental rights that cannot be suspended; thus it is especially concerned about violations such as extrajudicial executions, torture, and forced disappearances.  Thus, when the Commission receives credible communications denouncing such violations by a particular state which are attested to or corroborated by the reports or findings of other governmental or intergovernmental bodies and/or of respected national and international human rights organizations, the Commission believes that it has a duty to bring such situations to the attention of the Organization and its member states.


4.       The fourth criterion concerns those states that are in a process of transition from any of the above three situations.


5.       The fifth criterion regards temporary or structural situations that may appear in member states confronted, for various reasons, with situations that seriously affect the enjoyment of fundamental rights enshrined in the American Convention or the American Declaration.  This criterion includes, for example:  grave situations of violations that prevent the proper application of the rule of law; serious institutional crises; processes of institutional change which have negative consequences for human rights; or grave omissions in the adoption of the provisions necessary for the effective exercise of fundamental rights.


On the basis of the criteria set forth above, the Commission has decided to include five member states: Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, Haiti, and Venezuela.


3.                 In 2004, the internal armed conflict and its consequences continued to have an impact on the enjoyment of basic human rights in the Republic of Colombia.  As in previous years, this situation meets the criteria set out in the introduction to Chapter IV of the Annual Report of the IACHR.  These criteria are applicable as a whole and, in particular, with regard to the persistence of cyclical or structural situations in member states which, for various reasons, are confronting situations that seriously affect the enjoyment of the basic rights embodied in the American Convention.


4.                 Regarding the situation in Cuba, the Commission has taken special account of the first criterion because of the absence of free elections under internationally accepted standards, which undermines the right to political participation enshrined in Article XX of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.


5.                 The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has decided to include considerations on the Republic of Haiti in this chapter.  The country’s human rights practices deserve special attention as it can be said that its situation is covered by the fifth criterion of the 1997 Annual Report of the IACHR and mentioned earlier. 





6.                 In 2004 the enjoyment of fundamental human rights in the Republic of Colombia continued to be negatively impacted by the consequences of the internal armed conflict. The situation, as in previous years, fits within the criteria spelled out in the introduction to Chapter IV of the Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). These criteria are relevant as a whole, and particularly as regards the persistence of short-term or structural situations in member states which for various reasons face situations that have a serious and critical negative effect on the observance and enjoyment of the fundamental rights enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights. Accordingly, the Commission has adopted the following considerations, in keeping with the procedure established in Article 57(1)(h) of its Rules of Procedure[1], for inclusion in its Annual Report.  On 21 January 2005 the Commission sent the draft report to the Government and on February 25, 2005 Colombia submitted its observations.[2]


7.                 The Commission’s analysis refers succinctly to the process of demobilization of illegal armed groups and its compatibility with the international obligations of the State, as well as the consequences of the violence generated by the armed conflict for the civilian population in the course of 2004, with emphasis on the situation of indigenous peoples, Afro-descendant communities, trade union and social leaders, human rights defenders and judicial officers, and journalists. In addition, reference is made to the issue of administration of justice and impunity.


8.                 Before offering specific and documented considerations on these matters, the Commission whishes to state that it recognizes the efforts made by the State in order to fight armed actors to put and end to violence in the Republic of Colombia. Apart from being a State’s obligation, is also an objective of fundamental importance for peace, stability and governability in Colombia, shared by the State and the Civil Society.


9.                 Among the advances achieved in human rights, we must emphasize the efforts made by the Government to continue its “Programa de Protección de defensores de derechos humanos, sindicalistas, periodistas y líderes sociales”, administered by the Ministry of Interior. This program covers numerous beneficiaries of precautionary and provisional measures granted by the IACHR or by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, respectively, and contributes to the protection of life and personal integrity of thousands of people threatened by the actors of the armed conflict in Colombia. While there is still room for further progress in this area, and even though some cases have met with difficulties or backsliding in implementing the mechanisms of protection, it is a programmatic and institutional initiative that merits the continued recognition of the IACHR.

10.             In addition, during 2004 and as part of an effort to enhance the mechanisms directed to protect the civil population from the violence generated by the actors of the conflict, the State has begun implementation of the “Programa de Protección de Comunidades en Riesgo”. The general objective of this program is to strengthen the state offices at the national, regional, and local levels, to enable them to undertake joint and integrated actions to prevent incidents against and protect the members of indigenous, Afro-descendant, and peasant communities negatively affected by the armed conflict, and who in some cases are protected by precautionary and provisional measures. Its goals include expanding technical and methodological capacities, and establishing public policies to support these communities.[3] The Commission must emphasize the importance of this initiative as a necessary and opportune mechanism for the protection of communities affected by the violence.




11.             In order to address the question of the armed conflict and its impact on the enjoyment of human rights in 2004, reference will be made in the first place to the demobilization of the illegal armed groups and the compatibility of this process with the international obligations of the State. Second, the consequences of the violence generated by the conflict against the civilian population will be examined, affecting in particular the indigenous and Afro-descendant communities; social and trade-union leaders, human rights defenders and judicial officers, and journalists. The considerations formulated by the IACHR are based on its on-site observation in July 2004, and on information received in hearings and in the course of the processing of cases and precautionary measures, as well as the reports of inter-governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, and official sources.


A.      The Process of Dialogue with the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC)


12.             After the election and inauguration of President Álvaro Uribe Vélez in August 2002, some leaders of the paramilitary organization known as Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC)[4] made public their intentions to negotiate terms for the demobilization of their forces, and on December 1, 2002, they declared a unilateral cease of hostilities. In the ensuing months, Government representatives initiated contacts with members of the AUC, and on July 15, 2003, a preliminary agreement was reached by which demobilization targets were set for December 31, 2005. On May 13, 2004, an agreement was reached on establishing a special zone known as a “zona de ubicación” (literally, “location zone”) in Santafé de Ralito, Tierralta, department of Córdoba, as an area for the congregation of members of those paramilitary units (known as bloques) involved in negotiating the demobilization.[5] By effect of Resolution 092 of 2004, arrest warrants were suspended for all members of the AUC who were within the perimeter of the 368 km2 zone.[6]


13.             The process of dialogue between the “negotiating high command” (“estado mayor negociador”) of the AUC and the Government advanced considerably during 2004 in connection with the demobilization of several bloques that operate in different parts of the country.[7] Nonetheless, there is still a lack of definition of the procedural benefits the demobilized will enjoy, and so too of the guarantees of truth, justice, and reparation for the victims of the conflict who have been harmed by years of paramilitary violence. The negotiations coexist alongside the regime of individual and collective demobilization in force for all the members of the illegal armed groups who wish to rejoin civilian life, regulated by Decree 128 of 2003.[8]  The State insists that its provisions prevent those on trial or already sentenced for the commission of serious crimes, from receiving procedural benefits.[9]  However, the gaps and ambiguities in the terms of this provision give rise to a lack of clarity as to the scope of the procedural benefits to which the demobilized would be entitled, and juridical insecurity for all the parties involved, in particular the victims of the crimes and their families.


14.             The members of the paramilitary units involved in the demobilization process have been repeatedly described as being responsible for grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including massacres of defenseless civilians; selective assassinations of social leaders, trade unionists, human rights defenders, judicial officers, and journalists, among others; acts of torture, harassment, and intimidation; and actions aimed at forcing the displacement of entire communities. The Commission has established the State’s responsibility in individual cases, as these serious violations of the American Convention were perpetrated with the acquiescence of state agents[10], and has referred some of these cases to the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court.[11]


15.             The organs of the inter-American system,[12] the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner, and the human rights organizations in Colombia and internationally have called for the demobilization to be accompanied by guarantees of respect for the international obligations of the State. Nonetheless, the process has gone forward without the support of a legal framework that clarifies the conditions under which persons responsible for committing crimes will demobilize, or their relationship to the peace process. In view of the situation, it is urgent that a comprehensive legal framework be adopted that establishes clear conditions for the demobilization of illegal armed groups, in keeping with the international obligations of the State. This legal framework should provide for the situation of those who have already joined individual and collective demobilizations, so as to clarify their status.[13] In addition, genuine mechanisms of participation should be established, with security, for the victims of the conflict, so as to ensure access to truth, justice, and reparation.


16.             In addition to the lack of definition of the applicable legal framework, the process has advanced despite reports of ongoing violations of the cease of hostilities declared by the AUC. In this sense, the Government has emphasized in its observations that efforts are being made in order to agree upon the aforementioned legal framework through inclusive debate.[14]  In spite of this, the IACHR has received reports of crimes allegedly perpetrated in departments with a presence of AUC units led by members of the negotiating high command, such as Antioquia, Córdoba, Norte de Santander, Guajira, Cesar, Arauca, Tolima, Cauca, and Caldas, among others.


17.             On May 28, 2004, the High Commissioner for Peace himself stated that “the tendency of the AUC to commit criminal acts is growing month by month, especially homicides,” and that there had been an increase in attacks on the civilian population.[15] On September 24, 2004, the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman (Defensoría del Pueblo) released information on the total number of complaints received alleging crimes in the departments of Antioquia, Arauca (massacres and displacement), Cauca[16] (selective assassinations), Cesar (massacres, selective assassinations, displacement), Córdoba (kidnappings, threats, and selective assassinations), Guajira (massacres, selective assassinations, disappearances, violations of personal integrity, kidnappings), Magdalena (selective assassinations, disappearances, displacement, threats), Valle (selective assassinations, displacement), and Putumayo (massacres, displacement, kidnapping).[17]


18.             In summary, despite the commitment by the AUC to cease hostilities, acts of violence and intimidation against the civilian population continue. Deactivating the complex network of illegal armed groups who have joined the armed conflict in Colombia requires an end to the ongoing acts of violence by paramilitary groups against the civilian population as well as the clarification of such acts by the courts. Any effort to pacify and demobilize armed groups should rest on the legitimacy generated by the commitment to the agreements reached in light of international standards, the cessation of any use of violence or intimidation against the civilian population, submission to the law, justice, and reparation for the victims.



B.       The violence derived from the armed conflict


19.             Beyond the commitment to a cease of hostilities by what is called the “negotiating high command” of the AUC, acts of violence and intimidation of the civilian population continue to be committed by all actors in the conflict: paramilitaries, whether or not engaged in the negotiations at Santafé de Ralito; guerrilla groups, in particular the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC); and state agents. The violence committed in the course of the armed conflict continues to result in grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law to the detriment of the civilian population, in particular the most vulnerable sectors: the indigenous peoples, the Afro-descendant communities, and the displaced. In the course of 2004 selective assassinations and forced disappearances continued, targeting human rights defenders, trade unionists, social leaders, journalists, and candidates to elective office –including members of the Unión Patriótica political movement – among others.


20.             Government figures report 43 massacres from January to November 2004, resulting in 459 victims, 99 deaths attributed to the FARC[18], 13 to the AUC, eight to common crime, and 118 to unidentified actors.[19] These sources also speak of a reduction of almost 50%, both in the number of victims and in the number of cases, compared to the massacres perpetrated in 2003.[20] As the IACHR has already indicated, this reduction in the number of massacres has been attributed to a change in strategy geared to selective assassinations, so as to have less of an impact and allegedly a lesser political cost,[21] together with the partial implementation of the unilateral cease of hostilities that resulted from the rapprochement of the Government and the AUC to reach agreements on demobilization. Other sources note that the levels of sociopolitical violence have remained at high levels from 2002 to 2004, with more than 6,000 persons killed out of combat.[22]


21.             The CINEP data bank (Banco de Datos) indicates that in the period from January to June 2004 alone, 424 selective executions were committed, 86 of which were attributed to the Colombian Army and 304 to the paramilitary groups.[23] It also records 65 forced disappearances, 15 of which are attributable to the Army and 48 to the paramilitary groups.[24]  As for the crimes perpetrated by the guerrilla groups, 216 breaches of international humanitarian law are attributed to the FARC – including 123 selective assassinations.[25]


22.             The government figures show a marked decline in the number of displaced in 2004: they speak of 124,284 persons being displaced from January to November 2004, compared to 210,459 during the same period in 2003.[26] Nonetheless, the statistics compiled by CODHES present a different panorama. Indeed, according to the studies made by CODHES between January and September of 2004 some 205,504 persons were displaced, and, therefore, the projection of displaced population for year 2004 could even surpass the number registered by CODHES for the 2003, which were 207,607 persons.[27]


1.             Indigenous peoples and Afro-descendant communities


23.             In the course of 2004, the situation of violence besetting the indigenous peoples in Colombia continued to worsen[28]; they continue to be victims of massacres, selective executions, forced disappearances, forced displacement from their ancestral territories, forced recruitment, loss or contamination of their food sources, food blockades, accusations, and threats to their autonomy.  The seriousness of the situation has led the United Nations Special Rapporteur to indicate that in some cases their survival as peoples is threatened.[29]


24.             In effect, in recent years the pressure exercised by illegal armed groups on indigenous territories, both because of their strategic importance in military and economic terms, in connection with the trafficking and cultivation of illegal drugs and the exploitation of natural resources or their use in roads, mining, and hydroelectric energy.[30]  In response, the indigenous peoples have made known to national and international public opinion their categorical rejection of any proposal to involve them in the armed conflict, demanding instead of all the combatants that they respect their right to autonomy and neutrality, declaring themselves to be in community-based resistance to the actors in the internal armed conflict, and the State itself, in defense of their autonomy and human rights and to ensure their collective survival. Unfortunately, the constitutional[31] and statutory recognition of the individual and collective rights of the indigenous peoples and their ancestral lands has been overshadowed by the effects of the violence from the internal armed conflict on the indigenous population, and the fact that most of the crimes committed remain in impunity.


25.             Some official sources speak in statistical terms of the number of indigenous victims of homicide in 2004.[32]  In fact, according to the Government’s observations there is a 60% decrease in the number of deaths. Nonetheless, the situation has led the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman to publicly call on the authorities to adopt urgent measures needed to guarantee the fundamental collective and individual of the indigenous peoples.[33] The pronouncement makes express reference to the situation of the Chiripo, Yaruro or Yamalero, and Wipiwe indigenous groups, “… who are in the process of becoming extinct.”[34] In 2004 there have been massacres, selective assassinations, disappearances, and kidnappings that have affected members of the Kankuamo, Wayúu, Embera-Chamí, Embera-Katío, Wiwa, Arhuaco[35], Páez, and Pijao indigenous groups. In addition, it has been determined that the blockades of food and medical care and the displacements and indiscriminate attacks have  caused malnutrition, endemic diseases, illiteracy, and the failure to provide basic services. These populations and their community councils continue to be affected by nourishing blockades, constant acts of harassment and violence, forced kidnappings and displacements.  Also, the enjoyment of its collective territory is seen constantly threatened by the deforestation and seedtime of the African palm.


26.             The situation of violence against the indigenous communities who live in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta led to the request for provisional measures from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on behalf of the Kankuamo indigenous people, pursuant to Article 63(2) of the American Convention,[36] and to the issuance of precautionary measures on behalf of the women leaders of the Wayúu indigenous people, in keeping with Article 25 of the Commission’s Rules of Procedure. In addition, the Commission has had to pay special attention to the situation of the Embera-Katío of the upper Sinú, who live in their ancestral territories, adjacent to the Tierralta area and the zona de ubicación of Santafé de Ralito and the resguardos, or reserves, of the Embera-Chamí in Caldas and Risaralda, who are also protected by precautionary measures.


27.             The Commission must reiterate[37] its concern over the vulnerability of the indigenous peoples in Colombia, reflected in the assassinations, forced disappearances, massacres, and forced displacements to which their members have been subjected, in many cases despite the issuance of precautionary and provisional measures. The constant acts of violence perpetrated against the indigenous peoples who call for respect and protection for their fundamental rights threaten not only the life and personal integrity of their members, but also their very existence as peoples. The situation requires that the State take specific actions to deactivate the factors generating violence and to make it possible to move towards respect for the individual and collective rights of the indigenous peoples.


28.             The IACHR also continues to be concerned about the situation of the Afro-descendant communities who inhabit the Urabá region, the department of Chocó, and the Pacific coast region in general. As indicated supra, what is called the “negotiating high command” of the AUC and the Government are engaged in a process of dialogue the objective of which is to demobilize a number of paramilitary fronts. The Élmer Cárdenas Bloc, commanded by José Alfredo Berrío, alias “El Alemán,” whose influence extends throughout the department of Chocó and the Urabá region –one of the epicenters of the armed conflict— is not participating in the negotiations.  Nor are the Autodefensas Campesinas de Casanare, led by Héctor Germán Buitrago, alias “Martín Llanos.” While the intent to carry out military actions against the Autodefensas Campesinas de Casanare has been announced, there has been no news or action aimed at combating the constant attacks by the Elmer Cárdenas Bloc against the civilian population, in particular against the Afro-descendant communities who live in the lower Atrato, along the banks of the Cacarica and the Jiguamiandó rivers, who are protected by precautionary and provisional measures.[38]


3.       Trade unionists and social leaders


29.             In 2004, the attacks on and threats against the life and personal integrity of trade union leaders in Colombia continued, with 37 killed, according to official figures, from January to November 2004. According to these sources, there was a diminution of more than 30 percent in the number of assassinations, compared to 2003. On the other hand, the Escuela Nacional Sindical (National School for Union Leaders) reports 15 murders of union leaders, 30 murders of union workers and two of union advisers, with a total of 47 victims between the months of January and August of 2004.[39] Nonetheless, the situation continued to be critical, and has led the IACHR to continue monitoring the precautionary measures granted to provide protection to trade union leaders or the leadership of certain union organizations, such as ECOPETROL-USO and SINTRAEMSDES, among others.


30.             The IACHR has also monitored the preventive detention of social leaders who have benefited from precautionary measures, who have become suspects in judicial investigations. Specifically, the situation of Luz Perly Córdoba, a member of the Asociación Campesina de Arauca, and José Murillo Tobo and Alonso Campiño Bedoya, social leaders, also from the department of Arauca, has been closely monitored. Special attention will also be given to the clarification, before the regular courts, of the death of Eduardo Prieto Chamucero and Héctor Alirio Martínez—also beneficiaries of precautionary measures— as a result of the action of state agents, allegedly when the victims were defenseless.


31.             In 2004, the IACHR issued precautionary measures on behalf of Mery Naranjo, president of the local neighborhood council called Junta de Acción Comunal of the neighborhood Independencias III, part of the district known as Comuna 13 in the city of Medellín; she witnessed the murder of Ana Teresa Yarce, a member of the same social organization. Ms. Naranjo and her children have been subjected to threats and harassment. The IACHR has monitored especially closely the human rights situation in the comunas of the city of Medellín after a series of military operations carried out as of October 2002.  In June 2003, after visiting the areas of the city hardest hit by the paramilitary presence and control, and receiving testimony, it expressed concern over the possible consolidation of the presence of paramilitary groups involved in committing serious crimes in that part of the city. The IACHR delegation that visited the city of Medellín in July 2004 to evaluate the process of demobilization of the Cacique Nutibara Bloc of the AUC received testimony on acts of intimidation and violence perpetrated by paramilitary groups and their impact on the social organizations and juntas de acción comunal of Comuna 13.


4.       Human rights defenders


32.             Throughout 2004 acts continued directed against human rights defenders, involving violence, harassment, and intimidation. Also, expressions of high level government officials continued to question the legitimacy of their work. The CCJ has noted that from August 2002 to 2004, 33 human rights defenders were said to have been assassinated in Colombia.[40]


33.             On September 17, 2004, human rights defender Alfredo Correa de Andreis, along with this bodyguard, Eduardo Ochoa, was assassinated in the city of Barranquilla.[41] Three months before the assassination, on June 17, 2004, Alfredo Correa had been detained and considered a suspect in a judicial investigation based on information from a beneficiary of the reinsertion program that provides cash payments for information. The assassination occurred days after his release -- after he had been held more than a month – as there was no evidence against him. In December 2004, the IACHR requested information from the State regarding the situation of human rights defender and director of CEDERHNOS Mauricio Avilés, who – like Correa de Andreis— had been detained for several weeks and released when there was no evidence against him.


34.             The Commission continues receiving complaints along these lines regarding the alleged use of “judicial set-ups” aimed at harming or hushing human rights defenders, who, among other things, are involved in documenting the human rights situation, provide judicial defense of persons facing criminal charges, represent victims before the courts, and accompany communities at high risk. This situation has been denounced by national and international human rights organizations.[42] In this respect, the Commission reiterates that the punitive power of the State and its judicial apparatus should not be manipulated to harass those who are engaged in legitimate activities. The State has indicated that the Procuraduría General de la Nación requested that the judiciary confirm all arrest warrants and formal accusations and that such activity strengthens the legality of these prosecutions.


35.             The Commission notes that state agents continue to make hostile statements, including the very President of the Republic, against human rights defenders and persons providing international accompaniment. Specifically, on May 27, 2004, after a Security Council meeting held in San José de Apartadó, in Antioquia, the President of the Republic accused Peace Brigades International – which provides international accompaniment to the Community of San José de Apartadó— of obstructing justice.[43] On June 16, at the School of Cadets (Escuela de Cadetes de la Escuela General Santander) of the National Police, the President of the Republic accused Colombian and foreign human rights defenders of being “the unintentional accomplices [los cómplices culposos] of terrorism, [who] only serve to legitimate terrorism.”[44]


36.             The Commission has repeatedly expressed the importance of overcoming the hostility displayed by members of the different branches of government towards the human rights organizations, including those that carry out the work of accompanying communities at risk. The Commission must express serious concern over the impact that these statements will have on the security situation both of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, protected by provisional measures, and the members of Peace Brigades International who accompany them.


37.             The IACHR is also concerned by the repeated official accusations  (señalamientos) directed against[45] the well-known public interest human rights law office Colectivo de Abogados “José Alvear Restrepo,” a petitioner in individual cases before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for more than a decade, and beneficiary of the measures of protection granted by reason of the constant threats against and attacks on the lawyers and other legal staff who work there. Among the incidents in 2004, special mention should be made of President Uribe’s speech to the European Union on February 10, 2004, in which he stated that this organization “uses the issue of human rights as an excuse to provide cover for terrorists”; the insinuations by the departmental authorities of Cesar –in the context of follow-up meetings to the provisional measures issued on behalf of the Kankuamo indigenous people—  to the effect that the organization was a “guerrilla supporter” (“alcahuete de la guerrilla”); and the characterization of the Colectivo de Abogados –a co-petitioner in a claim before the Administrative Tribunal of Cundinamarca against the program to eradicate illegal crops using the herbicide glyphosate — as “traditional defenders of the FARC” on the web site of the respondent before that court, the National Narcotics Control Bureau (Dirección Nacional de Estupefacientes).


38.             Representatives of all branches of the State have repeatedly made generic accusations (señalamientos) directed at the Colectivo de Abogados “José Alvear Restrepo” as well as other human rights organizations. The IACHR must repeat once against that the words of the President of the Republic may be considered by illegal groups as an accusation that not only increases the risks human rights defenders face, but could also suggest that the acts of violence aimed at hushing them somehow enjoy the acquiescence of the Government. The Constitutional Court has expressed in this same sense in a recent decision and has emphasized the importance that the authorities and in special Head of State abstain to emit declarations that generate risks for the life of these people[46].


5.       Journalists


39.             Journalists and news media continue to be the targets of threats and acts of violence and intimidation both for their coverage of the armed conflict and as victims of organized crime and efforts to cover up acts of corruption. In 2004 journalists such as Cristian Herrero Nariño, Claudia Julieta Duque Duque (who was investigating the assassination of Jaime Garzón), and Luis Alberto Castaño were forced to abandon their places of residence or even to leave the country, for their safety.


40.             The IACHR has received –through the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression – complaints on kidnappings, stops (retenciones), and threats affecting journalists and on four assassinations of journalists and media workers in which a clear connection between the homicide and their work as journalists has yet to be confirmed. Among the journalists who have been kidnapped or temporarily held by armed groups are Julien Fouchet, who works with Radio Nova, held in Santa Marta; Inés Peña, of Enlace 10, allegedly kidnapped and tortured in Barrancabermeja; Luis Carlos Burbano Carvajal, of Caracol Noticias Televisión and his cameraman Mauricio Mesa Lancheros. The Office of the Special  Rapporteur received reports of threats to Garibaldi López and Diego Waldrón of Calor Estéreo, Barrancabermeja; the daily newspaper El Nuevo Día, in Ibagué; and Luis Alberto Castaño.


41.             Journalist Jorge Elías Corredor Quintero, director of the program El Pregón del Norte, was the target of an attack in which his step-daughter was killed. In June 2004 journalists Olga Lucía Cotamo and Angela Echeverri, with the radio network RCN in Cúcuta, were threatened by a pamphlet signed by the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN). The Office of the Special Rapporteur was informed of threats against journalist and human rights defender Ademir Luna, in the Magdalena Medio region; and the case of columnist Luis Eduardo Gómez, who was reportedly threatened by officials in the municipality of Arboletes; Silvio Sierra Sierra, threatened in the city of Popayán, and Geovanny Serrano, intimidated by unknown persons. On October 2, 2004, Semana magazine, in an editorial, denounced that some of its journalists had been threatened, yet that it was not possible to identify the origin of the threats.[47]




42.             The IACHR has consistently noted that the State has the right to protect the civilian population and its own institutional structure in the context of the armed conflict and other grave threats to public order. Nonetheless, it also has an obligation to ensure that the measures adopted are implemented without neglecting respect for the fundamental rights and guarantees under international human rights law. As noted above,[48] the Government has advocated the adoption of laws that may have a negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights such as the right to personal liberty, the inviolability of private communications and of the home, immediate access to judicial remedies, and the use of members of the armed forces, the Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad (DAS), or the National Police in activities that should be limited to judicial police officials. On June 17, 2004, the Congress adopted the legislation regulating what is called the Anti-Terrorist Statute (Estatuto Antiterrorista), adopted by Legislative Act No. 02 of 2003.[49]


43.             The IACHR communicated with the State in timely fashion in order to lay out its concerns over the possible incompatibility of certain aspects of such laws with the commitments of the Republic of Colombia to fundamental human rights, expressed in the American Convention and reflected in instruments such as the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism and the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and their scope with the authorized interpretation in the Report on Terrorism and Human Rights and the various reports on the human rights situation in Colombia that have been approved by the IACHR. Specifically, the attribution of judicial police powers to the military forces means granting functions properly vested in the judicial branch and its auxiliary organs to the military forces, which come under the Executive branch.[50]


44.             The IACHR has learned that on August 30, 2004, the Constitutional Court en banc proffered a judgment declaring unconstitutional Legislative Act No. 2 and its enacting legislation for procedural flaws that occurred during the sixth round of debate in the Congress of the Republic.[51] Accordingly, the approval of a new anti-terrorist statute will require a new legislative procedure.


45.             After this decision, authorities of the Executive branch spoke on the need for a judicial reform to limit the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court, inter alia, on matters of constitutional review of the states of emergency.[52] The institutions that administer justice and safeguard the constitutionality and compatibility of the laws with the international human rights obligations of the state play a fundamental role for ensuring effective observance of the rule of law. It is expected, therefore, that any reform of the current arrangement should not translate into institutional backsliding in this area. In any event, one should carefully evaluate the reformulation of the authority of an entity which –along with the Office of the Inspector General (Procuraduría General de la Nación), the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman (Defensoría del Pueblo), and the National Human Rights Unit of the Office of the Attorney General (Fiscalía General)— plays a fundamental role in the clarification of human rights violations in Colombia and in developing human rights through its case-law.


46.             In the course of 2004 there was no significant progress in criminal investigations that involve human rights violations in which the international responsibility of the state has been established. Therefore the problem of impunity persists along with the use of massive detentions and pressures brought to bear on prosecutors, judges, and other judicial officers involved in investigations about human rights violations.


47.             As noted supra, the IACHR continues to receive complaints reporting massive detentions of social leaders and human rights defenders allegedly for the crime of rebellion and terrorism. The detentions have occurred in the context of military and police operations deployed in areas where the guerrillas have co-existed with the civilian population. In many cases the detainees are deprived of liberty for the maximum period provided for by law – up to 180 days – after which the persons detained are released for lack of evidence. In many cases the detentions are based on the testimony of members of the Government’s network of informants, or of persons formerly in the armed groups who have reinserted, who receive monetary compensation for the information. In the case of the reinserted, Decree 128 of 2003[53] establishes the procedure for the demobilized to gain access to benefits, including access to health care, protection and security, and cash payments for collaborating by providing information on the activities of illegal organizations.[54] It should be noted that the IACHR has not received complaints alleging failure to provide the benefits as defined by Decree 128.  Nonetheless, it has received complaints and testimony on the alleged falsity of accusations against human rights defenders and social leaders made by reinserted persons who have gained access to cash payments for information.


48.             The IACHR has received complaints that judicial officers are pressured to legalize the detentions by the military forces and National Police in the context of special operations in which there have been massive and indiscriminate searches and detentions. It has been indicated that the officers who question the legality of these practices as well as the grounds for depriving the detainees of liberty have been subjected to criminal or disciplinary investigations.[55]


49.             The IACHR has learned of cases in which the revocation of arrest orders for lack of evidence has resulted in sanctions being imposed on judicial officers. Specifically, on November 7, 2003, prosecutor Orlando Pacheco Carrascal, assigned to the Superior Court of Sincelejo (Tribunal Superior de Sincelejo), revoked an order for 128 detainees to be held in preventive detention for failure to present the evidence required for upholding the measure.[56] The information received at the IACHR indicates that in response, the Attorney General of the Nation rejected Prosecutor Pacheco’s decision, transferring the proceeding to the National Anti-Terrorism Unit of Bogotá, and asked the Office of the Inspector General to begin a disciplinary investigation. In addition, a criminal investigation was begun into prosecutor Pacheco for the crime of positive breach of public duty (prevaricato por acción), which has been entrusted to a prosecutor in the prosecutorial unit assigned to the Supreme Court of Justice of Colombia. On November 15, 2004, he was formally named as a suspect in the investigation by summons to give sworn testimony, and arrested.


50.             In addition, judicial officers continue their work in conditions that pose a danger to their lives and personal integrity. According to the statistics collected by ASONAL Judicial, from January to October 2004 there were three assassinations, seven threats, two kidnappings, two assassination attempts, and one case of forced exile of judicial officers, in addition to the more than 226 assassinations, 281 threats, 32 kidnappings, 94 assassination attempts, 33 disappearances, and 20 cases of forced exile that occurred from 1989 to 2003.




51.             The Commission continues to worry about the impact of the violence generated by the actors of the internal armed conflict in the respect of the fundamental rights of the civil population in Colombia and, in individual, of the most vulnerable sectors:  indigenous and afro descendant communities and displaced. Also, attacks against human rights defenders, social and labor union leaders and journalists continue.  In spite of the dialogue between the State and the high command in charge of negotiations of the AUC, the commitment of cease of hostilities and the demobilizations conducted in several regions of the country, actions of paramilitary groups against the civil populace continue to take place.


52.             The IACHR is conscious, given the magnitude, duration and complexity of the internal armed conflict in Colombia, that easy solutions do not exist and that the search of political solutions to deactivate the factors and the actors of the armed conflict internal, is fundamental.  However, during 2004 the demobilization process advanced without the endorsement of an integral legal framework that clarifies the conditions under which people responsible of committing human rights violations demobilize or its relation with the pacification process. In view of these elements, the IACHR recommends the adoption of integral legal framework that establishes clear conditions for the demobilization of illegal armed groups, in accordance with the international obligations of the State. This legal framework must to anticipate the situation of those who already had been demobilized either individually or collectively to clarify their situation. Also, it must establish mechanisms of genuine participation, and in conditions of security, for the victims of the conflict, in order to assure access to truth, justice and reparation.


53.             The IACHR wishes to reiterate its call to the parts in the armed conflict so that through their structure of command and control, respect, implement and enforce the norms that govern the hostilities, enshrined in International Humanitarian Law, with special emphasis in the norms that offer protection to civilians.



[1] Article 57 of the IACHR’s Rules of Procedure provides: “1. The Annual Report presented by the Commission to the General Assembly of the OAS shall include the following: ..(h) any general or special report the Commission considers necessary with regard to the situation of human rights in the Member States, and, as the case may be, follow-up reports noting the progress achieved and the difficulties that have existed with respect to the effective observance of human rights; … 2. For the preparation and adoption of the reports provided for in paragraph 1(h) of this article, the Commission shall gather information from all the sources it deems necessary for the protection of human rights. Prior to its publication in the Annual Report, the Commission shall provide a copy of said report to the respective State. That State may send the Commission the views it deems pertinent within a maximum time period of one month from the date of transmission.  The contents of the report and the decision to publish it shall be within the exclusive discretion of the Commission.” Rules of Procedure of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Adopted by the Commission at its 109th special session held December 4 to 8, 2000, modified at its 116th regular session, held October 7 to 25, 2002, and at its 118th regular session, held October 6 to 24, 2003).

[2] Note DDH 10314 of the Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Colombia, dated February 24, 2005.

[3] The objectives of the Program are: “(1) To strengthen the competent state entities, national, regional, and local, to take joint, articulated, comprehensive, and permanent actions for prevention and for the protection of the human rights of the inhabitants of the communities at risk to which the program is directed. (2) To strengthen the traditional organizational forms, traditional authorities, and social organizations of the communities at risk to which the program is directed, for them to develop initiatives, make proposals, coordinate with the public authorities, and become involved in the implementation, follow-up, and control of the measures aimed at preventing violations and protecting human rights and international humanitarian law. (3) Re-establish or improve the relationship between the State and the community for the coordination, development, monitoring, and evaluation of the preventive and protective measures proposed in the action plans.” Note DDH 67305 from the Human Rights Bureau (Dirección de Derechos Humanos) of the Ministry of Foreign Relations,
December 30, 2004.

[4] In approximately 1997 the paramilitary groups consolidated at the national level in an organization called Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, made up of salaried and well-equipped forces who operate illegally. The AUC publicly stated their purpose of acting in coordination against the guerrilla forces, and by 2003 they had approximately 13,500 members organized in units called bloques with the following names: Norte, Central Bolívar, Centauros, Calima, Héroes de Granada, Pacífico, Sur del Cesar, Vencedores de Arauca, and Élmer Cárdenas.  These units operate through 49 fronts (frentes), which have influence in 26 of Colombia’s 32 departments and in 382 of its 1,098 municipalities.

[5]Acuerdo Entre Gobierno Nacional y las Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia para la Zona de Ubicación en Tierralta, Córdoba,” Santafé de Ralito, May 13, 2004.

[6] The agreement establishes that the zone will be in force for six months, which may be extended based on the needs of the process, and that in the event that the zone ceases to be in force, by joint decision or unilaterally, the members of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia will have five days to evacuate the zone. The OAS Mission to Support the Peace Process (MAPP/OAS) will verify compliance with this guarantee, with the accompaniment of the Church.

[7] On August 12, 2004, an agreement was reached to demobilize the autodefensas in the Llanos Orientales (Bloque Centauros, Autodefensas Campesinas de Meta y Vichada, and Bloque Vencedores de Arauca), which have a total of more than 6,000 combatants. See “Second Quarterly Report of the Secretary General on the Mission to Support the Peace Process in Colombia (MAPP/OAS), pursuant to Resolution CP/Res. 859 (1397/04) OEA/Ser.G CP/doc. 3944/04, September 28, 2004, p. 7. In early December 2004, 1,400 members of the Frente Catatumbo, part of the Bloque Norte of the AUC, demobilized, and two more fronts of the AUC concentrated in zones designated by the Government. It should be recalled that the Frente Catatumbo, which operates in Norte de Santander and the western part of the department of Santander, is said to be made up of some 300 men, under the orders of Salvatore Mancuso, and was accused of being responsible for the La Gabarra massacre, on May 29, 1999.

[8] Decree 128 of 2003 (January 22), which regulates Law 418 of 1997, extended and modified by Law 548 of 1999 and Law 782 of 2002 regarding reincorporation in civil society. Diario Oficial No. 45,073 of January 24, 2003,
page 10.

[9] Note DDH 10314 of the Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Colombia, dated February 24, 2005.

[10] See, for example, IACHR Report No. 62/09, Riofrío Massacre, Case 11,654, Annual Report of the IACHR 2000.

[11] The IACHR has referred the cases of the massacre of 19 merchants in the Magdalena Medio region in 1987; the massacre of civilians at Mapiripán (Meta) perpetrated in 1997; the disappearance of civilians at Pueblo Bello (Córdoba) in 1990; and the massacres of civilians in Ituango (Antioquia) perpetrated in 1996 and 1997.  The Court issued a judgment declaring the responsibility of the state in the case regarding the 19 merchants in 2004.  See I/A Court H.R., “19 Merchants” Case, Judgment of July 5, 2004, Series C Nº 109.

[12] See Resolution CP/RES. 859 (1397/04) ”Support to the Peace Process in Colombia,” third operative paragraph, which authorizes the establishment of the MAPP Mission, and at the same time highlights the need to “… ensure that the role of the OAS is fully consistent with the obligations of its member states with respect to the effective exercise of human rights and international humanitarian law.”  See also IACHR, Report on the Demobilization Process in Colombia, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.120 Doc. 60.

[13] On November 25, 2003, the process began whereby 874 members of the so-called “Bloque Cacique Nutibara” laid down their arms. It was one of the most aggressive urban fronts of the AUC, which for several years had been operating in the city of Medellín. This process of demobilization agreed upon at the local level, in keeping with the legal framework established by Laws 418 and 782 and Decree 128, was considered a pilot experience for the collective demobilization of AUC members. The testimony, complaints, and information received indicate that despite a certain decline in the number of incidents of political violence, paramilitary domination persists in certain comunas of Medellín, along with acts of violence, harassment, and intimidation against those who do not express support for the project backed by these groups. Based on a study of judicial records by the Office of the Attorney General in Medellín, the demobilized youths from the Bloque Cacique Nutibara do not appear to be representative of the most violent elements of the AUC in that urban area. From this one infers that expectations as to the positive effect of their demobilization on the activity of the armed groups in Medellín should be handled with caution.

[14] Note DDH 10314 of the Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Colombia, dated February 24, 2005.

[15] High Commissioner for Peace, Press Release, May 28, 2004; El Tiempo, May 28, 2004.  High Commissioner for Peace, Press Release, May 28, 2004.

[16] In a press release dated October 5, 2004, the Office in Colombia of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned the assassination of at least 11 persons, all members of the same family, perpetrated October 3, 2004, at the farm known as “La Cascada” in the district of Villagorgona, municipality of Candelaria (Valle del Cauca). The victims include pregnant women and minors. The community indicates that “according to official information collected by the Office, this grievous crime has been attributed to members of a paramilitary group that is part of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) and that operates in the zone. This massacre is in addition to other acts of violence committed in those municipalities of Valle del Cauca where paramilitaries act in close cooperation with criminal bands clashing over interests related to the illicit drug business. The Office notes that this mass killing constitutes another clear breach of the commitments acquired by paramilitary groups who today are at the negotiating table in Santafé de Ralito.” /2004/comunicados2004.php3?cod=37&cat=15.

[17] Defensoría del Pueblo, “Seguimiento al cese de hostilidades prometido por las autodefensas Unidas de Colombia como signo de su voluntad de paz para el país,” September 24, 2004.

[18] See Press Release Nº 15/04 in which the IACHR condemns the massacre perpetrated by the FARC on June 15, 2004, in La Gabarra, Norte de Santander.

[19] Office of the Vice-President of the Nation, Observatorio de Derechos Humanos y Derechos Internacional Humanitario, Boletín estadístico del Programa Presidencial de Derechos Humanos y Derecho Internacional Humanitario.

[20] Id.

[21] See Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 2003, Chapter IV, Colombia, para. 13.

[22] See CCJ “Colombia: en contravía de las recomendaciones internacionales sobre derechos humanos.  Balance de la política de seguridad democrática y la situación de los derechos humanos y derecho humanitario.  Agosto de 2002 a agosto de 2004,” pp. 10-14.

[23] CINEP, Cifras de la violencia política enero-junio de 2004, Table 2, in Noche y Niebla No. 29, p. 26.

[24] CINEP, Cifras de la violencia política enero-junio de 2004, Table 2, in Noche y Niebla No. 29, p. 26.

[25] CINEP, Cifras de la violencia política enero-junio de 2004, Table 6, in Noche y Niebla No. 29, p. 27.

[26] Office of the Vice-President of the Nation, Observatorio de Derechos Humanos y Derechos Internacional Humanitario, Boletín estadístico del Programa Presidencial de Derechos Humanos y Derecho Internacional Humanitario.

[27] Consultoría para los derechos humanos y el desplazamiento (CODHES) “Personas desplazadas, recepción por departamento, por trimestres,” November 24, 2004.

[28] A total of 84 indigenous peoples live in Colombia, distributed across all the departments of the national territory, and constituting 2% of the total population. Their cultural and social wealth is reflected in their diverse ways of life, which in general are closely tied to the territory, their defense of their autonomy, their forms of organization and conflict-resolution, which have enabled them to maintain their cultural identity.

[29] Mr. Stavenhagen’s report indicates that “the human rights situation of indigenous peoples in Colombia is grave, critical, and profoundly worrisome. A large number of communities suffer conditions of persistent violence in the context of an armed conflict that has considerable impacts on their daily living conditions. Indeed the very physical and cultural survival of some highly vulnerable indigenous communities is threatened, especially in the Amazon region.”  Report of Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, Rodolfo Stavenhagen. E/CN.4/2005/88/Add.2, November 10, 2004.

[30] As regards the situation of the indigenous territories, the Ministry of National Defense of Colombia, in circular 2064 of March 4, 2003, stated that both “the subversives and the illegal self-defense groups are disputing their territories using vile methods that sow death, pain, and desolation among the communities. Selective assassinations and massacres, retentions, forced disappearances, forced recruitment, and forced displacement, harassment, limitations on moving about freely within their territories, violent evictions from their collective properties, torture, rationing of food and medicines, failure to recognize their forms of organization and government, among others, are the main human rights violations to which the indigenous peoples are subjected.”

[31] The Colombian Constitution of 1991 is among the most advanced in the area of the human rights of indigenous peoples. It recognizes and protected the ethnic and cultural diversity of the Colombian nation, while also recognizing the right of the indigenous peoples’ authorities to perform judicial functions in their territory in keeping with their own rules and procedures; and it guarantees the local exercise of self-government by the indigenous communities. Colombia stands out for its recognition of the ancestral territories of indigenous peoples. While some applications for recognition or expansion of territories are still pending, it is well-known that approximately 30% of Colombian territory is titled to those who originally inhabited them, the indigenous peoples. Unfortunately, realizing this major gain of recent years has been seriously hampered by the actions of illegal armed groups in the indigenous territories, causing massive displacements and the abandonment of some resguardos by their legitimate occupants.

[32] Office of the Vice-Presidency of the Nation, Observatorio de Derechos Humanos y Derechos Internacional Humanitario, Boletín estadístico del Programa Presidencial de Derechos Humanos y Derecho Internacional Humanitario.

[33] Defensoría del Pueblo de Colombia, Press release 980 of November 16, 2004, “Urgen medidas de acción para atender poblaciones indígenas en Colombia.”

[34] Id.

[35] See Press Release from the Office in Colombia of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, November 9, 2004, on the assassination of Arhuaco mamo (spiritual authority) Mariano Suárez Chaparro, 70 years of age, which occurred in the rural district of El Chinchorro, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, November 6, 2004.

[36] I/A Court H.R., Resolution of July 5, 2004, on provisional measures requested by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights with respect to the Republic of Colombia. Kankuamo Indigenous People.

[37] See IACHR, Press Release 31/03, of October 30, 2003.

[38] See Resolution of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights of March 6, 2003. Provisional measures requested by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights with respect to the Republic of Colombia. Case of the communities of Jiguamiandó and Curbaradó.

[39] See ENS “Estado de los derechos humanos de sindicalistas colombianos Enero-Agosto 2004” in

[40] The CCJ indicates in its report that from August 2002 to August 2004, 33 human rights defenders were assassinated or disappeared. Comisión Colombiana de Juristas, “Colombia, en contravía de las Recomendaciones Internacionales sobre Derechos Humanos, Balance de la política de seguridad democrática y la situación de derechos humanos y derecho humanitario,” August 2004.

[41]Sicarios asesinan en Barranquilla al sociólogo Alfredo Correa de Andreis,” El Tiempo, September 17, 2004.

[42] For example, Amnesty International has noted that the judicial system in Colombia has been unlawfully used to stigmatize and harass human rights defenders, who have been victims of constant detentions or have had to face accusations of “false crimes.” See Amnesty International, Colombia: Alto Abuso del sistema judicial contra los defensores de derechos humanos, June 28, 2004.

[43] On May 27, 2004, the President of the Republic made statements in the following terms: “We have just received the following report from the prosecutor: someone from the Office of the Attorney General is going to San José de Apartadó to perform an act of the administration of justice, and one of the leaders of that community intervened to say that the community is not going to make a statement. That is obstruction of justice.... In a country that is called on to fight impunity, the very ones who call for the struggle against impunity cannot be those who obstruct justice. We are ready to support the Office of the Attorney General, with our Army and our Police, so that the Office of the Attorney General can administer justice in San José de Apartadó, where there continues to be a FARC corridor. And we are also willing to support the Office of the Attorney General. If it needs to imprison some of these leaders for obstruction of justice, it should do so. And if there are foreigners who instead of serving the community are obstructing the administration of justice in Colombia, those foreigners do not enjoy immunity in Colombia either.”

[44] Speech by President Uribe at the “General Santander” Police School, Bogotá, SNE, June 16, 2004.

[45] What are called “señalamientos” (accusations, or finger-pointing) consist of statements to local or national public opinion in which persons are accused of being guerrilla collaborators.  Generally such señalamientos precede grievous acts of violence. In some countries of the region such practices have led to gross and systematic human rights violations.

[46] The Decision indicates that "[...] the President is in a position of guarantor of fundamental rights of all inhabitants in the national territory.  Therefore whenever he addresses them he must abstain from issuing statements that might injure or put at risk this category of rights.  This obligation is even more relevant with respect to subjects especially protected by the Constitution such as human rights defenders, reinsertados, forcibly displaced persons or members of so-called peace communities who –in view of their vulnerability regarding fundamental rights such as personal security, physical integrity and life- deserve special treatment and measures of protection. On that count, statements made public by the President of the Republic must (i) respect strict parameters of objectivity and veracity when the only purpose is that of transmitting information;  (ii) enjoy more freedom at the moment of making a political statement, proposing governmental policies or responding to criticism by the opposition, and yet in such cases the expressions of a Head of State must be based upon some minimal factual justification and some parameters of reasonableness and (iii) that in any case his dialogue with the Nation must contribute to the defense of the fundamental rights of the people, particularly those who require special protection. […] Consequently, the acknowledgement of the greater risk run by human rights organizations and their members imposes a significant burden on the State and –depending on the degree and kind of risk in each particular case— such burden requires positive actions of the part of the authorities in order to guarantee their safety and also the abstention to generate further risks. In this sense, and as part of its constitutional role, this Chamber takes the opportunity to reiterate the importance of international commitments acquired by the State regarding the protection of human rights defenders." Constitutional Court, Sixth Chamber, Decision: T-1191/04 of November 25, 2004, (Petitioners: Geiler Romaña, in representation of the Asociación de Afrocolombianos Desplazados (AFRODES) and others. Defendant:  Doctor Alvaro Uribe Vélez, President of the Republic). Opinion delivered by Magistrate Marco Gerardo Monroy Cabra.

[47] Reporters without Borders, “Los periodistas de Semana amenazados y vigilados telefónicamente,” October 5, 2004.

[48] Chapter IV, Colombia, Annual Report of the IACHR 2003, para. 18.

[49] Legislative Act 02 “By which Articles 15, 24, 28 and 250 of the Colombian Constitution are amended, to confront terrorism.” The Anti-Terrorist Statute modified Articles 15, 24, 28, and 250 of the Constitution for the purpose of “confronting terrorism.” The amendment to Article 15 of the Constitution authorized the authorities to intercept or record the correspondence and all other forms of private communication without a prior judicial order. The changes to Article 24 authorized the national government to establish the obligation to keep a record on residency of the inhabitants of the national territory. And the amendment to Article 28 authorized the authorities to carry out detentions, searches, and home searches without prior judicial control, establishing a more expeditious procedure for their authorization and control. Finally, Article 4 of Legislative Act No. 2 incorporated a second paragraph to Article 250 of the Constitution authorizing members of the Armed Forces to constitute special units with judicial police functions.

[50] IACHR, Second Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Peru (2000), OEA/Ser.L/V/II.106 Doc. 59 rev., Chapter II, para. 100 and similar; IACHR Fifth Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Guatemala, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.111 Doc. 21 rev., Chapter IV, para. 33.

[51] Judgment C-816/04 of the Constitutional Court of Colombia, Cases D5121 and D5122.  While the decision of the Court does not address the content of the legislative act, the dissenting votes make reference to the total or partial unconstitutionality of the Statute or to its incompatibility with the 1991 Constitution.

[52] The bill, which has been bandied about since 2002, would also remove standing to bring an acción de tutela for judgments for the protection of economic, social, and cultural rights, and it would limit, in general, the powers that allow the Constitutional Court to order the public authorities or private persons to perform acts in their rulings on constitutionality, to extend their rulings to laws that have not been expressly challenged by the claimants, to amend the text of the laws subject to their cognizance, to expand or reduce the persons or events to which the laws studied apply, to determine the effects of its rulings, and to determine their retroactivity.

[53] The regime of individual demobilization in force is governed principally by Law 418 of 1997, extended and modified by Law 548 of 1999 and Law 782 of 2002, regulated by Decree 128 of 2003.

[54] Specifically, Article 9 of Decree 128 establishes that “the demobilized individual who voluntarily wishes to make an effective contribution to justice by providing information helpful in preventing terrorist attacks, kidnappings, or who provides information that makes it possible to free kidnapped persons, find arms caches, communications equipment, proceeds of drug-trafficking or of any other unlawful activity carried out by illegal armed organizations, in keeping with the legal provisions in force or the arrest of ringleaders, will receive a sum of money from the Ministry of National Defense in keeping with the results, pursuant to the regulation issued by this Ministry.” 

[55] International Federation for Human Rights, Report Nº 393/3, May 2004. Colombia: “La Seguridad Democrática,” Chapter V, p. 8.