IACHR Publishes Friendly Settlement Agreement on Case Concerning the Failure to Investigate the Homicide of José Torres in Colombia

September 26, 2023

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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 14,070—José Omar Torres Barbosa, Colombia—and to publish approval report 112/23.

This case concerns the State's international responsibility for the failure to investigate the homicide of José Omar Torres Barbosa, perpetrated in 2003 in the municipality of Puerto Rico, Meta.

The parties signed a friendly settlement agreement on July 19, 2022. In this agreement, the Colombian 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 (obligation to respect rights) of that instrument, to the detriment of the family of José Omar Torres Barbosa, 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) conducting sessions with officials of the Ministry of Housing, Cities, and Territory, to present to the beneficiaries institutional offers concerning access to housing; (3) granting educational assistance for postgraduate studies to the victim's daughter; (4) taking medical, psychological, and psychosocial rehabilitation measures; (5) continuing to pursue judicial measures to drive this investigation and the options of identifying the perpetrators and masterminds of these events; and (6) granting financial compensation in application of Act 288 of 1996.

The IACHR highlighted compliance with measures concerning the event to acknowledge responsibility and noted that other commitments remained pending. The Commission will therefore continue to monitor this agreement until full implementation has been verified.

The IACHR commends both parties on their efforts while negotiating this friendly settlement agreement, which turned out to be compatible with the Convention's aims and purposes. The Commission 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. 225/23

12:55 PM