Case 11,049:  Manizales Recyclers


          On May 5, 1992, the IACHR received the following petition, which is still being processed:


                   The PROSPERAR Cooperative and the Manizales recycling community abhors the atrocious but unsolved murders committed against the recyclers of this country.  Thus far, we know of no positive action or proceeding being taken by any State investigatory body to ascertain who the guilty parties are.


                   Although the shock of the Barranquilla massacre is still upon us, the complaints from the recycling community in this city are constant.  They are constantly threatened by the so-called "social cleansing" groups.  On March 4, seven young recyclers who work in the municipal dump and who live in the Galán district near the dump, were standing on a neighborhood street corner between 6:30 and 9:00 p.m. when two motorcycle patrolmen with their faces half covered and in civilian dress, suddenly appeared with their weapons drawn; they immediately let go several rounds of machine-gun fire, aiming at the young men; terrified, the latter scattered to take shelter.  ALEXANDER SUAREZ, 19, was seriously wounded, and HERIBERTO SANTA M., 17, was killed.  Thus far, no motive for the attack has been established and those responsible have not been identified.


          The IACHR is still processing this case.




1986          397

1987          352

1988          273

1989          364

1990          267

1991          389


Total      2042[10]



          d)      Enforced disappearance


          The international crime of enforced disappearance is included under this chapter on the right to life, even though enforced disappearance is a succession of criminal offenses.  It begins with violation of the right to personal liberty when an individual is either arbitrarily detained or abducted; the enforced disappearance continues with violation of the right to judicial guarantees, due process and violation of the right to humane treatment, because the arrest or abduction are, as a rule, executed by violent means that often leave the victim seriously injured.  As a rule, the victim is eventually subjected to abuse or torture in order to extract information or to inflict corporal punishment.  Enforced disappearance generally ends with violation of the right to life, since the intent of an enforced disappearance is, from the very outset, to violate the right to life.


          An additional problem is the fact that disappearance is not qualified as a crime.  Although Article 12 of the 1991 Constitution prohibits enforced disappearance, the Congress has not yet discussed at length the bill that would make enforced disappearance a crime.  On the other hand, the legislature has enacted measures concerning kidnapping.  For the IACHR kidnapping and enforced disappearance are equally disturbing and it finds it strange that the Colombian machinery of State has not attached the same degree of importance to both phenomena, which are flagrant violations of human dignity.  So long as it is not specifically criminalized, no criminal punishment can be sought when it is committed.


          The petitions that the Commission has received in respect of violation of this right are as follows:


Case 10,319:  Isidro Caballero Delgado and María del Carmen Santana


          On April 5, 1989, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights received the following petition:


                   On February 7, 1989, at 1:00 p.m., in a place known as Guaduas, in the municipality of San Alberto, Department of Cesar, Colombia, Isidro Caballero Delgado was taken into custody by a military patrol consisting of units of the Colombian Army, stationed at the El Líbano Military Garrison (jurisdiction of San Alberto) and attached to the Fifth Brigade headquartered in Bucaramanga.  Also arrested was María del Carmen Santana.


                   Apparently, Isidro Caballero was arrested because for 11 years he had actively participated in the Santander Teachers' Union and had risen to become one of its leaders.  In the past, and for the same reasons, Caballero Delgado was held in the Bucaramanga Model Prison, accused of belonging to the M-19; in November 1986, he was released but had been constantly harassed and threatened since then.


                   Relatives went to the community where they spoke with the Mayor, the Municipal Judge, the Commandant of the local police, and the Commanders of the Military Garrisons at La Palma and El Líbano in San Alberto and Morrison Garrison in San Martín (Cesar) to ask that he be released.  The authorities flatly denied ever having arrested or captured him or that they had him in custody.


                   Complaints were filed with the Office of the Attorney General in Bogota and the Office of the Regional Prosecutor in Bucaramanga, the First Superior Court, the Commandant of the Fifth Brigade and Second Division of the Army, although no information has been received as to the whereabouts of Isidro Caballero Delgado.


                   From versions supplied by people from the area, it was learned that both Isidro Caballero Delgado and María del Carmen Santana had been arrested by the army, who had marched them through the area, probably for the absurd purpose of identifying other people from the region.


                   The victims were:  1)  Isidro Caballero Delgado, age 32, a Colombian citizen and teacher by profession, present whereabouts unknown.  2)  María del Carmen Santana, approximately 20 years old, a Colombian citizen, present whereabouts unknown.


          At its 81st session, the Commission  concluded the following:


                   That the Government of Colombia has failed to comply with its obligation to respect and guarantee articles 4 (right to life), 5 (right to humane treatment), 7 (right to personal liberty) and 25 (on judicial protection), in respect to Article 1.1, upheld in the American Convention on Human Rights, to which Colombia is party, in the abduction and subsequent disappearance of Isidro Caballero Delgado and María del Carmen Santana.


                   To recommend to the State of Colombia that it pay compensatory damages to the family of the victims; that it continue investigations until it establishes the identity of those responsible and imposes the punishments required by law, so as to avoid the consummation of acts of serious impunity that strike at the very basis of the legal system; that it guarantee the safety of the eyewitnesses to these events who have cooperated in order to shed light on these facts and give them any protection they may require.


          The Colombian Government requested reconsideration of that report and the Commission, through report 31/92 of September 25, 1992, adopted the following decision:


                   To dismiss the request for reconsideration presented by the Government of Colombia; to confirm report 31/91 of September 29, 1991, and to refer this case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.


          The Court, which has its seat in San José, Costa Rica, is still considering this case.  At its XXVII regular session, held from January 25 to February 5, 1993, it released a press communique reporting that at that session it would be examining a new case that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights had filed against the Government of Colombia.  The case concerned the events that transpired on February 7, 1989, in the town of Guadas in the Municipality of San Alberto, department of Cesar, Colombia, where ISIDRO CABALLERO DELGADO and MARIA DEL CARMEN SANTANA were unlawfully, arbitrarily and forcibly detained and subsequently disappeared.  A petition concerning their unlawful arrest and disappearance had been filed with the Commission, which was processing it as case 10319.  As its delegate to represent it in the case, the Commission designated Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza, a member of the Commission.


          In a later press release the Court announced that on July 15, 1993, the public hearing had been held to hear the preliminary objections.  It continued as follows:


          This public hearing concerns the preliminary objections entered by the Government of Colombia in the case Caballero Delgado and Santana v. the State. The case was brought by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on December 24, 1992 concerning "the events that transpired on February 7, 1989, in the town of Guadas in the Municipality of San Alberto, department of Cesar, Colombia, where ISIDRO CABALLERO DELGADO and MARIA DEL CARMEN SANTANA were unlawfully, arbitrarily and forcibly detained and subsequently disappeared.  A petition concerning their unlawful arrest and disappearance had been filed, which the Commission processed."


          The Commission is alleging that the Government of Colombia is responsible for violating, in the case of the forenamed citizens, articles 4 (right to life), 5 (right to humane treatment), 7 (right to personal liberty), 8 (right to a fair trial) and 25 (right to judicial protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights, all in relation to Article 1.1 thereof, which stipulates that the State is obligated to respect those rights.  The Commission further considers that the Government is responsible for violating the second article of the Convention (the duty to adopt domestic law) and Article 51.2 in relation to Article 29.b thereof.


          The preliminary objections are procedural defenses that the respondent can plead and, if admitted, will terminate the contentious proceedings before the merits of the case are considered.  In this case, the objections filed by the Government are as follows:  1) That the Commission did not place itself at the disposal of the parties with a view to reaching a friendly settlement, as provided under Article 48.1.f of the Convention; 2) That the Commission violated the provisions of articles 50 and 51 of the Convention, and 3) That the domestic remedies have not been exhausted.


          Appearing before the Court for this public hearing were:  for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza, delegate; Dr. Manuel Velasco Clark, assistant; Dr. Gustavo Gallón Giraldo, advisor; Dr. José Miguel Vivanco, advisor; Dr. Juan Méndez, advisor; for the Government, Dr. Jaime Bernal Cuéllar, agent, and Dr. Weiner Ariza Moreno, alternate.


Case 10,581:  Alirio de Jesús Pedraza Becerra


          On July 6, 1990, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights received a petition, which the petitioner later supplemented on September 26 of that year, as follows:


                   On July 4, 1990, at approximately 10:00 p.m., Dr. Alirio de Jesús Pedraza Becerra was arbitrarily detained by a group of 8 heavily armed men in civilian dress, as he was leaving the San Pablo Bakery in the La Campiña Shopping Center, Street 145, at the intersection with highway 92, near his residence in the Suba district of northwestern Bogota.  The abductors had arrived earlier in three vehicles:  a dark Mazda, a white Chevrolet Trooper and a third vehicle of unknown description.  The three vehicles parked outside the bakery.  The occupants of the vehicles seized Dr. Pedraza as he was leaving the bakery, beat him and then forced him into the Mazda.


                   These events were witnessed by two policemen who were in the vicinity when the events transpired.  Two of Alirio's abductors identified themselves to these policemen as members of a State security agency, which is why the policeman did not intervene as the abduction was in progress.


                   Dr. Alirio de Jesús Pedraza Becerra, 40, had for more than 8 years been a member of the Political Prisoners Solidarity Committee.  He had served as the attorney in several cases against the Colombian State wherein various members of the Armed Forces were convicted of human rights violations, specifically the right to life.  Moreover, he served as the attorney for 42 union members who had been arrested and tortured by members of the National Army between March 1 and March 7, 1990.


                   Prior to his disappearance, Dr. Pedraza had received death threats from a paramilitary group operating in the Department of Boyacá, Alirio Pedraza's native department.  On August 21, 1989, his mother's home was searched by members of the Tarquí Battalion, from Sogamoso (Boyacá) in what Alirio described at the time as "political reprisals for my professional activities."  Since his arrest-disappearance, Alirio de Jesús Pedraza Becerra has not returned home, where his wife Virginia Vargas and his small son Oscar Alberto await him still.


          An eyewitness, Mr. Víctor Hugo Martínez Jáuregui, a guard at the shopping center, gave the following testimony in the Special Investigations Unit of the Office of the Attorney General on July 11, 1990:


                   All of this happened fifteen minutes after a bomb exploded in downtown Bogota.  I heard about it on a radio that was playing in the pharmacy.  Two cars came up: one a dark Mazda and the other a Trooper with a white cab.  There was another car parked near the exit from the shopping center's parking lot.  The men in the Mazda got out and the light of the Mazda stayed on.  The two who came in the Trooper also got out and the driver of the Trooper went into the bakery.  I was in front of the Trooper, which was parked outside the bakery; when the man inside came out, they left the doors open.  It was then that I heard noise; I immediately started walking in the direction of the noise and that was when I saw a man in a yellow jacket.  They had him pinned up against the wall; I believe it's the wall of Noah's Ark, a pet shop.  It was four against one and they were using foul language.  I heard them tell the man in the yellow jacket that this was a search, to get up against the wall; I went toward him to help him because I thought they were robbing him.  I got as far as the shoe store, there by Noah's Ark;  I was about to take out my revolver when the driver of the Trooper told me that they were the Criminal Investigations Police, and not to do anything.  Then he took out a black card and showed me, and I saw that it said CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS POLICE, and that it had a flag on it. [Let the record show that the deponent draws a picture of the identification card shown to him by the Criminal Investigations Police] (...).


                   The guy with the moustache stayed with me for another five minutes.  He was nervous, looking all around.  At that point, he called out for his friends and said "Stay here with him," and that was when the little black guy was with me; the order was given like a command, the voice was strong.  The young black man was immediately beside me until they took the man in the yellow jacket and put him in the Mazda.  That was when he started to scream; the young black man slammed the door of the Mazda shut and turned the engine on immediately; he told the two policemen who were standing near the telephone booth "It's ok, nothing's happening.  These guys were from Criminal Investigations Police" (...).


                   QUESTION:  Please indicate whether any member of the National Police was present as these events transpired; ANSWER:  Yes, they were; there were two policemen in uniform, wearing boots and hats with green visors; one of them had a radio that was bigger than the one they use in the Public Prosecutor's Office; [let the records show that the deponent saw it when it was put in front of him].  He continued with his statement: "The radio that I saw was longer; they were tall young men, they had revolvers and they were aware of everything that was happening, like the two I mentioned earlier.  These were the policemen whom the abductors told to relax, nothing had happened, that they were from the Criminal Investigations Police.  All three headed out by way of Telecom, in other words against the traffic.  QUESTION:  Please tell us where the two policemen were located and how they reacted to the incident.  ANSWER:  The policemen were there, near the long-distance telephones.  They just watched what was happening at the shopping center; they didn't take any action.  They came from the direction of the pool rooms, on the avenue, in other words from the south.  As they were passing by, they stopped to look at what was going on and they stayed there watching until the cars left.  I don't know where they went from there, because I went into the bakery to speak with the owner.


                   The petitioner argues that this is proof that the disappearance of Alirio de Jesús Pedraza was the work of State agents.  Mrs. Virginia Vargas Pirabán, wife of Mr. Pedraza, stated this in a statement that is in the case file with the Commission.  She told of how he had been the victim of harassment and death threats, as has is family, because at the time of his disappearance, attorney Pedraza was representing some people in Cali (Valle) who had been tortured.  The investigation of the case had established that various members of the national army were implicated in those crimes against humanity.


                   Mr. Pedraza had been the target of constant persecution on the part of military and State police agencies, as his wife stated in the aforementioned declaration.  Everything points to the fact that Alirio de Jesús Pedraza's commitment to defending human rights and his progressive position vis-a-vis the serious crisis that Colombian society has experienced and is still experiencing, became sufficient cause to put his life and personal safety in jeopardy, as has happened with so many human rights defenders in the past (such as Dr. Héctor Abad Gómez, Martín Calderón Jurado, Valentín Basto Calderón, among many others; some of these are cases with which the Commission is well acquainted.)


                   The Judge of the 20th Superior Court of Bogota, in processing the petition of habeas corpus, found that the first army brigade had issued an arrest warrant against Mr. Pedraza, an arrest warrant that was still in effect.  This was very damaging to the State's case, because it was not only odd but also illegal that an arrest warrant of that nature should be issued against a civilian.  On March 5, 1987, the Supreme Court had ruled that the state-of-siege decree giving the military jurisdiction over civilians was unconstitutional.


                   For his part, the Commandant at the police station in the area where the events occurred refused to reveal the identity of the two policemen who were on duty at the shopping center that night.  The other policemen assigned to that station also refused when they were called upon to make depositions in the Special Investigations Unit of the Attorney General's Office.  This was a blatant act of defiance, calculated to thwart justice,  and is why the guilty parties have never been identified.


                   It is incomprehensible that Colombia has yet been unable to identify the two policemen on duty in the area of Dr. Pedraza's apartment on July 4, 1990.  The fact that the Colombian Government has been unable to establish who those policemen were and that the Office of the Director General of National Police has been unable to come up with any type of results in this regard, after more than a year since the disappearance occurred, is a serious indication of the Colombian State's responsibility, both because of its inability to ensure the rights of persons and because of its lack of sufficient will to punish those responsible and redress the violations against them.


          At its 81st session, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights concluded the following concerning the facts in this case:


                   That the Government of Colombia has failed to comply with its obligation to respect and guarantee articles 4 (right to life), 5 (right to humane treatment), 7 (right to personal liberty) and 25 (on judicial protection), in respect of Article 1.1 of the American Convention on Human Rights, of which Colombia is party, in the kidnapping and subsequent disappearance of Mr. Alirio de Jesús Pedraza Becerra.


                   To recommend to the State of Colombia that it pay compensatory damages to the victim's next of kin; that it continue and probe deeper in the investigation into the facts denounced and that it guarantee the safety and provide the necessary protection to the eyewitnesses to these events.


          The Colombian Government requested reconsideration of that report.  At meeting 1160, on September 25, 1992, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights resolved to ratify the report and publish it in its Annual Report.


Case 10,537:  Olga Esther Bernal Dueñas


                   On February 7, 1990, the Commission received the following petition:


                   At around 10:00 a.m., January 7, 1988, in the city of Buenaventura in the Department of Valle del Cauca, OLGA ESTHER BERNAL was with Mr. Froylán Torres in a commercial establishment by the name of "Listo".


                   After leaving the establishment known as "Listo", Olga Esther was arrested by a police agent known in the city of Buenaventura by the alias of "Escoba".  She was taken by force to the police station, in the presence of numerous witnesses.  In the course of her violent arrest, Ms. Bernal screamed out for help, as she was afraid she would be killed.


                   Once outside the police station, witnesses watched as Olga Esther was taken to an inside office; approximately five minutes later, the so-called "Escoba" walked out carrying a woman's underwear in his hands, which he handed to Captain Chávez Ocaña.


                   The individual known as "Escoba" was later identified as Alberto Botero Bernal, an agent of the National Police attached to the Sijin Seventh District in Buenaventura, identification No. 16,583,294 issued in Cali.


                   Olga Esther Bernal Dueñas disappeared on January 7, 1988 and has not been seen since.


          According to the information the Commission has in its possession, the investigation of this episode went as follows:


          Disciplinary Proceedings with the Police:  Senator Pedro Alcántara requested that a disciplinary investigation be conducted by the Valle Police Department, to establish the whereabouts of the disappeared and punish the individuals responsible for this violation, i.e., Commandant Guillermo Julio Chávez Ocaña and agent Alberto Botero Bernal.


                   In the course of the disciplinary proceedings, the parents of the disappeared woman, Jorge Augusto Bernal Cires and Melba Dueñas de Bernal, made statements to the effect that on January 6, 1988, their daughter, OLGA ESTHER, had traveled from Cali, where she lived, to the city of Buenaventura.  They stated that Olga Esther did not return to Cali as scheduled, and when they inquired about her whereabouts in Buenaventura, they were told she had been arrested by agent "Escoba".  Finally, they stated that for the safety of the witnesses, they were unable to reveal their addresses and identities.


          Agent Pablo Hugo Gómez Barrios made a statement before the investigating police officer.  He said that all Subsijín agents called Alberto Botero Bernal "Escoba", and that he was very popular with his colleagues.


          Alberto Botero Bernal, alias "Escoba", testified to answer the charges, and denied that he arrested Olga Esther Bernal and said that his friends called him by the nickname "Escoba".


          Captain Guillermo Julio Chávez Ocaña also testified and denied having participated in the serious violation committed, and also asserted that there was no agent whose nickname was "Escoba".


          By an order dated March 8, 1988, the Commandant of the Valle Police Department cleared Alberto Botero Bernal and Guillermo Chávez Ocaña of any blame in the disappearance of Olga Esther Bernal Dueñas.


                   Administrative Processing with the Public Prosecutor's Office:  The Attorney Delegate for Human Rights conducted an investigation into the disappearance of Olga Esther Bernal Dueñas, under Case 2805.  The Buenaventura regional office was instructed to compile evidence.


                   In November 1989, Captain Chavez Ocaña, agent Botero Bernal, and two other agents by the names of Botero and Mancilla, who had also participated in the disappearance of Olga Esther, were summoned to make statements in the Buenaventura Prosecutor's Office.


                   Mr. Euclides Mosquera, who had been one of the witnesses when Olga Esther was arrested and taken by force to the Buenaventura Police Station, also made a statement in the Prosecutor's Office.


                   Thus far, despite the existence of the evidence in the case, the Public Prosecutor has not reached any finding or decision establishing the whereabouts of Olga Esther and punishing those responsible.


                   Court Processing:  On January 15, 1990, Mr. Jorge Augusto Bernal Dueñas filed an action with the Third Criminal Court of Cali, to denounce the disappearance of his daughter Olga Esther.


                   The complaint was circulated and assigned to the Nineteenth Criminal Examining Court of Buenaventura, which still has the case under investigation.


                   On January 9, 1990, Ms. Luz Helena Bernal, sister of the disappeared, was summoned to make a statement in the proceedings.


                   Despite the amount of time that has elapsed, the Nineteenth Criminal Examining Court of Buenaventura has not established what happened to Olga Esther Bernal.


          The Government of Colombia has provided the IACHR with adequate information on the investigations conducted by the Office of the Attorney General, the National Police's internal disciplinary actions, the actions taken by the military criminal courts and the regular criminal courts.  It insists that inquiries are still in progress in hopes of obtaining information concerning the whereabouts of Mrs. Bernal Dueñas.  It argues, therefore, that the remedies under domestic law have not been exhausted and it is still investigating the matter.


          The petitioner, for his part, criticizes what the court authorities and the Attorney General's Office have done:  in spite of the evidence they have available to them, they have not even named the responsible parties in the proceedings under way, even though they have been given their identities.


          After hearing the allegations from the parties, the IACHR believes that the petition satisfies the formal requirements for admissibility; that in the instant case, it is obvious that the petitioners have been unable to secure effective protection from the internal jurisdictional organs which, despite the irrefutable evidence made available to them, have failed to punish the responsible parties; therefore, regardless of whether or not the remedies under domestic law have been exhausted, the Colombian Government may not invoke them to suspend the processing of this petition with the Commission, given the unjustified delay in the investigation.


          Moreover, the Commission also took into account the fact that the investigations into the instant case have established that members of the Colombian National Police participated in the abduction and subsequent disappearance of Olga Esther Bernal Dueñas.


          At its 82nd session, exercising the authorities with which it is invested, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights


                   CONCLUDES:  That the Government of Colombia has failed to comply with its obligation to respect and guarantee articles 4 (right to life), 5 (the right to humane treatment), 7 (the right to personal liberty), and 25 (on judicial protection), in respect of Art. 1.1, recognized in the American Convention on Human Rights to which Colombia is a Party, in the abduction and subsequent disappearance of Olga Esther Bernal Dueñas.


                   To recommend to the State of Colombia that it pay compensatory damages to the victim's next of kin; that it continue and develop the investigation into the facts denounced; that it guarantee the safety of and grant the necessary protection to the witnesses to these events; to include this report in the Annual Report to the General Assembly of the Organization of American States should no reply be received within 90 days of the date of this report.


Case 9620:  Luis Fernando Lalinde Lalinde


          On September 17, 1985, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

received a petition to the following effect:


                   Mr. LUIS FERNANDO LALINDE was arbitrarily arrested, according to eyewitnesses, on October 3, 1984.  Mr. Lalinde's arrest occurred between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m., and was carried out by members of the Colombia Army's Ayacucho Battalion in the Village of Verdún, Municipality of El Jardín, Antioquia.  Despite many requests to the Colombian Government, neither Mr. Lalinde's whereabouts nor the reason for his arrest has been revealed.


          The Government was notified on February 24, 1986, and denied the facts denounced.  It refuted the petitioner's version, stating the following:


                   Having conducted a thorough investigation, the conclusion reached was that no such person was ever captured by members of the military forces and was not imprisoned in military facilities.


          In reply to the Government's statement, the petitioner offered the conclusions reached by the Thirteenth Criminal Examining Judge, Dr. Bernardo Jaramillo Uribe, who was able to establish, from statements by the people of that village, that Luis Fernando Lalinde was indeed arrested on October 3 and taken away alive, in an army truck, at around 6:00 p.m. that same day.


                   Among the evidence provided to prove the Colombian Government's responsibility, statements by neighbors bear emphasizing:


                   BERNARDO JARAMILLO JARAMILLO:  when asked if one of the strangers who came there had been the young man whose photo he was shown (he was shown a photograph of Luis Fernando Lalinde Lalinde (file 144):  "... yes, sir.  The army was beating him horribly.  Let me show you where they grabbed him... they put us over there, nearby... then they grabbed that young man and dragged him up there, tied him to a board and blindfolded him."


                   LUCIA RAMIREZ OCAMPO (file 145):  "... they had the young man lying face down in the midst of soldiers.  I saw the young man raise up his head and then the soldiers started kicking him, so that he wouldn't lift up his head... there were some words, some screams, and a terrible uproar."


                   FLOR ANGELA ESCOBAR RODRIGUEZ (file 146):   When she was shown the photograph of Luis Fernando Lalinde Lalinde, she said the following:  "... yes sir, I saw that young man around here... I remember very well.  It was October 3 of last year, the day the troops came here was the only day I saw him...  The guys that were headed for the concentration school saw him tied to a guamo tree."


                   JOSE YARCE CARDONA (file 147).  When he was shown the photograph of Luis Fernando, he stated the following:  "... Yes, this is the guy.  Yes, sir, this is him.  I saw him on October 3 of last year; so that you can be very clear on this point, I saw him when they took him out of the animal crib; he had mud on his back and was bleeding from here, at the nape of the neck..."


                   JOSE EMIDIO MONTOYA RESTREPO (file 148):  "... when I saw the young man that looks so much like the one in the photograph they had him hanging from a beam with manacles; they asked me if I knew him..."


                   RUBEN DARIO JARAMILLO JARAMILLO (file 149): when shown the photograph of Luis Fernando, he stated:  "... this is the same one I saw them take out of the crib... they treated him badly, they called him names, kicked him.  There were cuts on his neck, and he was bleeding from the neck...  Those men who came here were dressed in uniforms; they were the ones who had the boy ..."


          As the inquiry progressed, the Government of Colombia, which had originally told the Commission that Luis Fernando Lalinde Lalinde was never arrested, informed the Commission that:


                   On December 10, 1987, the Office of the Attorney Delegate for the Military Forces instituted a formal disciplinary inquiry against Captain JAIRO ENRIQUE PIÑEROS SEGURA, Second Lieutenants JAIME ANDRES TEJADA GONZALEZ, and SAMUEL JAIMES SOTO, and Cpl. Second Class MEDARDO ESPINOSA AREIZA, accused of torturing and physically and verbally abusing LUIS FERNANDO LALINDE LALINDE, alias "Jacinto".


          It also stated the following:  "The Government of Colombia is aware of the serious implications that situations of this type can have for the protection of human rights, a cause to which the country has always been committed, as demonstrated by its long history of democracy; its adherence to the rule of law; its ratification and/or accession of numerous international treaties, both global and regional, such as the American Convention on Human Rights and its acceptance of the jurisdiction of the Court for an indefinite period and for acts that occur subsequent to the date of its acceptance, and recently the United Nations Convention on Torture."


          At its 71st session (September 22, 1987), the Commission approved Resolution No. 24/87, the operative part of which reads as follows:


                   1.  To declare that the Government of Colombia has violated the right of personal liberty recognized in Article 7 of the American Convention on Human Rights, and the right to life recognized in Article 4 of that international instrument, by the actions of its agents that led to the arrest and subsequent disappearance of Luis Fernando Lalinde Lalinde, in the village of "Verdún", Municipality of El Jardin, in Antioquia, on October 3, 1986.


                   2.  To recommend to the Colombian Government that it conduct a thorough investigation of the facts denounced, to identify those responsible and bring them to justice, so that they may receive the punishments that such serious misconduct demands, and that it adopt the measures necessary to prevent a recurrence of such serious acts.


          The Government of Colombia made observations concerning Resolution No. 24/87 and requested its reconsideration.


          At its 74th session (September 6 through 16, 1988), since the new information supplied by the Colombian Government on the investigations conducted into this case was not sufficient to warrant either reexamination of this case or reconsideration of resolution No. 24/87, approved at its 71st session, the Commission resolved:


                   To confirm, in all its parts, the content of Resolution No. 24/87 on Case 9620, while replacing the expression "arrest and subsequent disappearance" in paragraph 1 of that resolution with the expression "arrest and subsequent death" of Luis Fernando Lalinde Lalinde.  To declare that the Colombian State has violated the right to humane treatment recognized in Article 5 of the American Convention on Human Rights, through the actions of its agents.  To reiterate to the Colombian State the recommendations contained in operative paragraph 2 of that resolution, while also recommending that those responsible for the events be punished.  To transmit this resolution to the State of Colombia and to the petitioner, and to include it in its next Annual Report to the General Assembly of the Organization of American States.


          Subsequent to the Commission's resolution, Mrs. Fabiola Lalinde and her family suffered the following acts of reprisal:


          October 23, 1988:  Fabiola and her son Jorge Ivan were detained.  Both were held for two days in the Bombona Battalion.  Fabiola was then transferred to Buen Pastor, where she remained for 10 days.  During that same period, Jorge Ivan was held in the Bellavista jail.  November 28, 1988.  Fabiola received a telephone call at the office where she works, Almacenes Ley, from an individual who informed her that he was attached to Bombona Battalion and had an order to arrest her and her son Mauricio.  Fabiola checked with the Fifth Criminal Examining Magistrate, who was handling her case, and was told that there was no order for her arrest and perhaps she was being terrorized by phone.  November 29, 1988 and December 5, 1988:  The phone calls continued to the point that Fabiola had to leave work.  April 1991:  Fabiola was approached by individuals from the DAS who demanded that she give them information.  This happened after the People's Court.  Mauricio Lalinde, Fabiola's son, had to leave the country on March 3, 1989.  Mauricio had been a target in September 1987, when the Office of the Regional Prosecutor saved him.  In 1989, the Technical Corps of the Criminal Investigations Police harassed him to the point that he was forced to leave the country.


          Later, at the Commission's 84th session in October 1993, the representative of the victim's mother told the Commission that the Government of Colombia was not complying with the recommendations made by the Commission in resolution 24/87, adopted on September 16, 1988, to the effect that the Government continue investigating the matter, punish those responsible and award compensatory damages to Fernando Lalinde's next-of-kin.  The Commission therefore decided to request information from the Government on this matter.




          The report of the Attorney General of Colombia, which came out on September 10, 1991, is a serious study and account of how violence in Colombia is affecting the right to life; Chapter III is subtitled "Homicides, massacres, and enforced disappearance".


          When discussing the murders that occurred in Colombia in 1991 and that it is presently investigating, the Office of the Attorney General reported that of the 560 persons killed that year, agents of the State were implicated or responsible for 387 cases; the death toll was highest in the departments of Antioquia, Santander and Cundinamarca.  As for the victims of these violations, some 13.93% were peasants in rural areas; 13.74% were independent laborers in urban and semi-urban areas, and 6.67% were agents of the State of which 3.99% were members of the armed forces.  The Office of the Attorney General attributes responsibility as follows: 46.25% of the cases are the work of the National Police, and 31.60% are the work of the military forces.


          According to the Office of the Attorney General, in the last 15 months to which the report refers, there were 68 massacres in 16 different departments.  The incidence of massacres was highest in the departments of Antioquia, where there were 22 (32.35% of the total); Cordoba, with 8 massacres (11.76% of the total); and Santander, with 7 massacres (10.29% of the total).  Of the victims, 40.23% were peasants; the rest were members of the armed forces, civil servants and M-19 guerrillas, as the figures in the report include the 130 individuals who died at the Palace of Justice.


          The incidence of enforced disappearance is highest in the department of El Valle, with 123; Antioquia, with 111; Santander, 65; and Cundinamarca, 64.  Most of the victims are workers, students, members of unions, activists and peasants.  The chapter on enforced disappearance contains a list of the names of 465 people reported as detained and disappeared within the period covered by that report.


          In a recent communique, the Office of the Attorney General states that every day, the Public Prosecutor's Office in Colombia receives a report of another enforced disappearance.  Between April 1991 and July 1992, there were 569 complaints of disappearances; of these, 76% have been filed (430 cases), 22% are in the preliminary inquiry or investigation stage (125 cases), and only 2% have been solved (14 cases).  Some 63 of the cases are attributed to members of the National Police, 48 to the Army and 3 to the DAS.








Political Assassi-






ances      *


Social Cleans-





Deaths in combat


Grand Total


Daily average


Total murders


Daily average murders


% Political

violence/total violence



















































































































































Note:  These are executions and disappearances that have a political motive or are suspected of being politically motivated.  Because of information difficulties, there are no data on social cleansing acts prior to 1988.  



(January - September)


  First quarter









Political assassination

Suspected political assassination


Social cleansing
































Deaths, hostilities






Grand Total










     The number of victims, the fact that violations continue, the ferocity with which these violations are frequently committed, and the fact that the vast majority of these atrocious acts go unpunished, is all deeply disturbing to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which sympathizes with the Colombian people's protest and urges the Colombian Government to spare no effort to try to control and conquer this dramatic problem, so painful for Colombia and, because of human solidarity, for all countries of the inter-American system.


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      [10]  Source:  1986-87 (Proyecto Conflicto social y violencia); 1988-91 (human rights databank) of the Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular CINEP, in Mauricio García Durán, De la Uribe a Tlaxcala, procesos de paz, Bogota, CINEP, 1992, p. 284.

         [11]  Source:  Andean Commission of Jurists, Colombian Section, "La situación de derechos humanos en Colombia:  compleja pero no confusa", Bogota, September 1992, p.4.