IACHR Publishes Friendly Settlement Agreement on Case Concerning the Failure to Investigate and Punish the Homicide of Ernesto Ramírez Berrios in Colombia

December 9, 2022

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has decided to approve the friendly settlement agreement concerning Case 14,093—Ernesto Ramírez Berrios, Colombia—and to publish approval report 285/22. This case concerns the State's international responsibility for the failure to investigate the homicide of Ernesto Ramírez Berrios (a former mayor of the municipality of Puerto Rico, in the department of Meta) and to punish the people who killed him.

On June 1, 2021, the parties signed a memorandum of understanding in search of a friendly settlement and pursued negotiations that led to the signing of a friendly settlement agreement on March 1, 2022. In this agreement, the State acknowledged its international responsibility, by omission, for violations of the rights held in Articles 8 (right to a fair trial) and 25 (right to judicial protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights, in accordance with Article 1.1 of the Convention (obligation to respect rights), to the detriment of the family of Ernesto Ramírez Berrios, for lack of diligence to investigate these events. This lack of diligence led to a failure to identify, prosecute, and punish the individuals who perpetrated this homicide.

The State committed to implementing the following redress measures: (1) holding a public event to acknowledge its responsibility; (2) granting educational assistance to the victim's brother; (3) conducting sessions with officials of the Ministry of Housing, Cities, and Territory, to present to the beneficiaries institutional offers concerning access to housing; (4) publishing the friendly settlement report on the website of the National Legal Defense Agency; and 5) granting financial compensation in application of Act 288 of 1996.

In Friendly Settlement Report 285/22, the IACHR approved the provisos held in this agreement and acknowledged compliance with the event to acknowledge responsibility, which was held remotely using various software tools. Since the parties opted to defer compliance with the remaining elements of this friendly settlement agreement until after the Commission had approved it, the Commission will continue to monitor the implementation of the agreed redress measures until full compliance has been attained.

The Commission acknowledges the efforts made by both parties to negotiate a friendly settlement agreement that is compatible with the Convention's goals and purposes. The IACHR commends the State on its efforts to develop a public policy concerning friendly settlements and alternative conflict-resolution. The IACHR invites the State to continue to use the friendly settlement mechanism to resolve other cases that are currently being addressed in the individual petition and case system. The Commission acknowledges the petitioning party's efforts to take part in negotiations and to seek implementation of this agreement.

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. 275/22

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