Press Release

IACHR Concludes Visit to Colombia

May 15, 2015

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María Isabel Rivero
IACHR Press and Communication Director
Tel: +1 (202) 370-9001

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Washington, D.C. - Commissioner José de Jesús Orozco, in his capacity as Rapporteur for Colombia and Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, traveled to Colombia within the framework of a working visit from May 4 to May 6, 2015. The purpose of the visit was to participate in activities related to friendly settlements and precautionary measures. Promotional activities were conducted during the visit, such as the IV National Seminar on the Friendly Settlements Mechanism and the Second Staff Training Workshop on Procedural Aspects of the Friendly Settlements Mechanism. In addition, seven working meetings concerning precautionary measures were held, along with nine working meetings on individual petitions and cases.

The IV National Seminar on the Friendly Settlements Mechanism was held at Universidad Externado de Colombia for the purpose of promoting the Friendly Settlements Mechanism as an alternative to the contentious proceedings in the Inter-American Human Rights System. This opportunity for dialogue allowed civil society organizations’ representatives and Colombian government officials to learn about the impact of friendly settlement agreements approved by the IACHR, and enabled the identification of good practices and challenges that need to be addressed so as to effectively make use of said mechanism to protect victims’ human rights.
A staff training workshop on the practical procedural aspects of the Friendly Settlements Mechanism was carried out on May 5, calling up the different institutions in charge of the negotiation and enforcement of friendly settlement agreements in Colombia. Previous seminars on the mechanism on friendly settlements took place in Mexico, Paraguay and Bolivia, while the Inter-American Conference on this topic was held in Antigua, Guatemala.

Additionally, Rapporteur Orozco chaired seven working meetings regarding precautionary measures, for the purpose of following up on the compliance with protection measures on behalf of the Colombian State. He also facilitated the encounter between parties in nine working meetings on petitions and cases, in order to promote friendly settlements and follow up on the recommendations made by the IACHR. At these meetings, the parties signed two friendly settlement agreements: one concerning case 11.990, Oscar Orlando Bueno Bonett, and another one in regard to petition 108-00, the Segovia Massacre. Said agreements will be subjected to the IACHR’s approval for the purpose of verifying their compliance with the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, when the parties deem convenient.

Four memorandums of understanding were also signed, aimed at seeking friendly settlements in cases 11.144, Gerson González; 12.541, Omar Zúñiga; 11.538, Herson Javier Caro (Javier Apache) and petition 577-06, Gloria González. In addition, the parties signed a record that reflected the agreements that were reached at the working meeting, for the purpose of making progress on the friendly settlement of case 11.007, the Trujillo Massacre. On the other hand, an agreement between the parties was signed in order to implement the recommendations made by the Commission in a report on the merits, which are pending of implementation.

The IACHR values the Colombian State’s efforts to build a policy aimed at seeking friendly settlements of issues pending before the individual petition and case system, reflected by the creation of a specialized group at the National Agency for the Legal Defense of the State; and also by respectfully approaching the victims and their representatives in order to jointly reach solutions as regards the search of truth, justice and compensation. The IACHR also values the applicants’ willingness and openness to consider compensation measures within the framework of friendly settlement agreements as well as agreements to comply with the recommendations made by the IACHR.

The Commission wishes to thank the State of Colombia for their outstanding cooperation with the organization of the visit and the support of the Chancellery, the Unit for Attention and Reparation for Victims, the National Unit of Protection, and particularly of the National Agency for the Legal Defense of the State, and for successfully conducting the promotional events and the working meetings.

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 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. 051/15