IACHR Publishes Friendly Settlement Agreement on the Lack of Investigation into the Murder of Merardo Vahos in Colombia

December 21, 2023

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Washington, D.C. — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced its decision to approve and publish the friendly settlement agreement for Case 13.971, Merardo Iván Vahos Arcila and family, concerning Colombia, through Approval Report no. 271/23.

The case concerns the international responsibility of the State for the failure to investigate the murder of Merardo Iván Vahos Arcila on August 9, 2000, in the municipality of Yolombó, Department of Antioquia.

The parties entered into negotiations by signing a memorandum of understanding on March 28, 2023, and signed a friendly settlement agreement on May 18, 2023. In this agreement, the State acknowledged its international responsibility for violating the rights recognized in articles 8 (judicial guarantees) and 25 (judicial protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights in relation to article 1.1 (obligation to respect rights), to the detriment of the family of Merardo Iván Vahos Arcila due to the lack of diligence in the investigation of the events that took place, which resulted in the lack of identification, prosecution, and punishment of the people responsible for his murder.

The State undertook to implement the following reparation measures: 1) carry out a public act of acknowledgment of responsibility; 2) publish the Article 49 report on the ANDJE web page for six months; 3) continue to advance judicial proceedings that allow the investigation to move forward and those responsible for the events to be identified; and 4) grant financial reparation through the application of Law 288 of 1996.

The IACHR approved the terms of the agreement that was signed and deemed that total compliance had been achieved with the measures related to the ceremony to acknowledge responsibility. It considered the other commitments to be outstanding and will continue to monitor them until they have been fully implemented.

The IACHR acknowledged the efforts made by both parties during the negotiation of the agreement to reach a friendly settlement following a two-month negotiation process that was consistent with the object and purpose of the Inter-American Convention. It welcomed the efforts made by the State to make friendly settlements and alternative dispute resolution a public policy and encouraged it to continue using this mechanism to resolve other matters pending before the individual petition and case system. It also acknowledged the efforts of the petitioning party and appreciated its willingness to participate in the negotiations and to advance the friendly settlement process.

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate stems from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has the mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as an advisory body to the OAS on the matter. The IACHR is made up of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 310/23

4:21 PM