IACHR Press Office
Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 81/2020 on October 6, 2021, to grant precautionary measures in favor of Sebastián Quiñónez Echavarría in Colombia, in the belief that he faces a serious, urgent risk of suffering irreparable harm to his rights.
The parties who requested these precautionary measures said that Sebastián Quiñónez Echavarría—a young soldier who was doing his mandatory military service at the 3rd Mountain Battalion in Dagua, Valle del Cauca—is in a serious and urgent situation. No news of his condition or whereabouts have been provided since August 23, 2021. The parties who requested these precautionary measures further reported that the young soldier went missing in an area that has been historically plagued by armed conflict (which has affected local civilians), in a geographically difficult context with few transportation options to leave the area.
The Commission commended the State for the measures it had adopted in this case, particularly the launch of the Urgent Search Mechanism. However, the IACHR noted that several verifications remained pending, including efforts to find out the reasons why the proposed beneficiary might have left the Battalion voluntarily or whether any disciplinary proceedings had been launched in connection with the events that prompted this request for precautionary measures, as well as any lines of investigation that were being followed in this case, especially given that the parties who filed the request have alleged that the proposed beneficiary had been "expelled from the Battalion" following orders from his superiors. Finally, the Commission noted that, overall, the information that is currently available suggests that, after more than one month missing and despite ongoing investigations, no substantial information has been provided concerning the proposed beneficiary's whereabouts and condition.
After assessing all the available information, the IACHR concluded that, in keeping with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the young soldier Quiñónez Echavarría is in a serious and urgent situation, since his whereabouts are unknown. The IACHR therefore asked Colombia to take any measures necessary to establish the whereabouts and condition of Sebastián Quiñónez Echavarría, in order to protect his rights to life and personal integrity; and to report on any action taken to investigate the alleged events that gave rise to the adoption of this resolution, to prevent such events from happening again in the future.
The fact that this precautionary measure has been granted and its adoption by the State do not entail a prejudgment on a potential petition that may be filed before the inter-American system to allege violations of rights protected by the applicable instruments.
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.