IACHR Welcomes Full Compliance with the Friendly Settlement Agreement in Case 12,756—El Aracatazzo Bar Massacre, Colombia

July 6, 2023

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has decided to declare full compliance with Friendly Settlement Report 10/15, concerning Case 12,756—El Aracatazzo Bar Massacre, Colombia—and will stop monitoring it.

This case concerns the international responsibility of the Colombian State for the deaths of 18 people on August 12, 1995, at the bar El Aracatazzo, in the municipality of Chigorodó, in Antioquia. The killings were allegedly perpetrated by members of paramilitary groups, in connivance with law enforcement officers at a checkpoint operated by the National Army's Infantry Battalion 46. These law enforcement officers allegedly failed to take protection measures to support civilians, despite having heard shots. They also allegedly failed to conduct a diligent criminal investigation and a disciplinary review of the people involved. The case went unpunished for more than 10 years.

On December 12, 2014, the parties signed a friendly settlement agreement that was approved by the Commission on January 30, 2015. During the process to verify the implementation of this friendly settlement agreement, the Commission assessed action taken by the Colombian State to ensure compliance with the commitments it had made in the agreement.

The Commission found that the State had held an event to acknowledge its international responsibility, paid financial compensation as agreed, and included the beneficiaries of this agreement in the country's Single Record of Victims and in the General Social Security System for Healthcare, in the context of the program to provide psychosocial assistance and comprehensive healthcare to victims.

One of the most significant aspects of this agreement involved the implementation of several extracurricular training sessions held over the period 2015–2017 and coordinated by the Continuing Education and Joint Doctrine Department. These training sessions were attended by several military and police units all around the country and included case studies that had been taken before the Inter-American Human Rights System, as well as addressing the State's international human rights obligations and the existence of the friendly settlement mechanism as an alternative, effective dispute resolution framework at the IACHR.

The State also punished, through ordinary criminal courts, one of the perpetrators of the attack and continued to investigate this case as part of Macro Case 04 in the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP, by its Spanish acronym). Macro Case 04 has proved the deaths of 340 individual victims, including 14 in the El Aracatazzo case. Both parties have acknowledged the conviction issued by an ordinary criminal court and the efforts and progress made in the context of the JEP as major results of this friendly settlement process.

The Inter-American Commission closely followed the implementation of the friendly settlement that was agreed in this case. The IACHR commended both parties on their efforts in negotiations and, later, during the monitoring stage of the friendly settlement agreement. Based on information provided by the parties, the IACHR declared that full compliance had been attained and ended its supervision of compliance with this friendly settlement agreement.

The Commission commends the Colombian State on its efforts to solve cases that are taken before the petition and case system through its friendly settlement mechanism and congratulates it for its work to achieve the full implementation of this agreement.

Please click here to access the technical information sheet for this case.

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. 149/23

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