IACHR Publishes Friendly Settlement Agreement on Case Concerning the Homicide of Eleazar Vargas Ardila in Colombia

December 18, 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 14,145—Eleazar Vargas Ardila and Family, Colombia—and to publish approval report 210/23.

This case concerns the State's international responsibility for the failure to investigate the homicide of Eleazar Vargas Ardila, perpetrated by paramilitary groups on February 26, 1994, in the municipality of Gamarra, in the department of Cesar.

The parties signed a friendly settlement agreement in this case on July 22, 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, to the detriment of the family of Eleazar Vargas Ardila. The case concerned the failure to investigate these events, which led to a failure to identify, prosecute, and punish the individuals who perpetrated the homicide.

The State committed to: (1) holding an event to acknowledge its responsibility; (2) posting this friendly settlement agreement on the website of the National Legal Defense Agency; (3) granting educational assistance to Eleazar Vargas Ardila's children; (4) providing financial compensation through the mechanism that was set up by Act 288 of 1996; and (5) taking healthcare measures (including medical, psychological, and psychosocial care) in favor of relatives of the victim who are identified as beneficiaries.

The IACHR highlighted full compliance with the event to acknowledge responsibility and noted that other commitments remained pending, based on the parties' shared determination to request that this agreement be approved before it is implemented. The IACHR will therefore continue to monitor the agreement until full implementation had 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 congratulates the petitioning party for all its 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. 297/23

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