IACHR Welcomes Progress Made By Colombia in Friendly Settlements in 2023

June 6, 2024

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is pleased to report that the State of Colombia took various measures in 2023 to support negotiations toward friendly settlement agreements and to encourage compliance with friendly settlement agreements.

In 2023, the Commission approved and published 16 friendly settlement agreements signed by various petitioners and the Colombian State. A total of 15 of those agreements have attained partial compliance and one has attained substantial partial compliance. This is a record figure for Colombia.

The IACHR is particularly pleased about the approval of two friendly settlement agreements concerning freedom of expression. The first one, on Case 12,908, involves university professor Jorge Freytter Romero, who was a victim of unlawful detention, torture, and extrajudicial killing in retaliation for his activities as a trade union leader. An event was held to acknowledge the State's responsibility for rights violations in this case and to issue an apology to the man's family, while human rights workshops were held for members of the Army, the Navy, and the National Police. Further, a monument to honor Romero was erected at the Historical Memory Building in Barranquilla.

The second agreement, on Case 14,808, involves adolescent urban artist Diego Felipe Becerra, who was a victim of an extrajudicial killing. In this case, compliance involved holding an event to acknowledge State responsibility in the presence of the victim's family, his representatives, and high authorities, while the Office of the Mayor of Bogotá took action to ensure remembrance.

In its 2023 Annual Report, the Commission stated that the State of Colombia had been one of the countries who had made the most progress in terms of redress measures, attaining compliance with a total of 85 such measures (50 involving full compliance, 12 involving substantial partial compliance, and 23 involving partial compliance).

The Commission declared that full compliance had been attained in five friendly settlement agreements, involving Petition 401-05—Jorge Antonio Barboza Tarazona et al.; Petition 108-00—Massacre of Segovia Antioquia 1988; Case 12,712—Rubén Darío Arroyave Gallego; Petition 595-09—Jorge Alberto Montes Gallego and Family; and Case 13,421—Geminiano Gil Martínez and Family. The IACHR therefore stopped monitoring those cases.

The IACHR identifies as good practice by the State the implementation of administrative agreements with institutions including the National Legal Defense Agency (ANDJE) and the Ombudsperson's Office, as well as with the Unit to Search for Individuals Who Are Considered Missing in the Context of the Armed Conflict (UBPD). The Commission further identifies as good practice by the State the launch of mechanisms to facilitate the implementation of redress measures. For instance, the ANDJE recruited a team of experts to apply Act 288 of 1996, to review the hurdles that are identified in specific cases and to streamline the payment process to comply with financial compensation requirements included in friendly settlement agreements.

The Commission appreciates the efforts made by the State of Colombia and congratulates it on progress made to implement friendly settlements and on compliance with IACHR decisions to approve such settlements. 

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 128/24

2:45 PM