Press Release

IACHR Welcomes Signing of Friendly Settlement Agreement for Case 13.171 Luis Argemiro Gómez Atehortua, Concerning Colombia

February 5, 2021

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Washington, D.C.- The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomed the signing of the friendly settlement agreement for Case 13.171, Luis Argemiro Gómez Atehortua, signed on December 2, 2020 by the organization Indemnizaciones Paz, representing the victim and his family, and the Colombian State.

On November 21, 2006, the IACHR received a petition alleging that the Republic of Colombia was internationally responsible for the death of Luis Argemiro Gómez Atehortua during events that took place between February 4 and 5, 1999, in the city of Medellín, and also for the lack of investigation into these events and punishment of those responsible for them.

According to the allegations in the petition, on February 4, 1999, Luis Argemiro Gómez Atehortua and Roberto Mauricio Montoya Serna were allegedly arrested by public security forces belonging to the National Police of Medellín's Unified Action Group for Personal Liberty (GAULA). After his arrest, Mr. Gómez Atehortua was allegedly transferred to a penitentiary operated by GAULA, where he was allegedly held and where he then allegedly committed suicide. On February 5, 1999, Luis Argemiro Gómez Atehortua's body was found in his cell in a state of advanced decay as a result of the police force's lack of monitoring of people being deprived of their freedom at the facility and their noncompliance with the duty of due diligence in caring for detainees.

On June 9, 2020, the parties signed a memorandum of understanding toward a friendly settlement, which they reached and signed on December 2, 2020, and in which the Colombian State acknowledged its international responsibility for failure to comply with the duty to guarantee the right to life established in Article 4 of the American Convention on Human Rights.

The a friendly settlement agreement signed by the parties contained significant measures of reparation, including: (i) a public ceremony to acknowledge responsibility and provide a public apology, to be held online by the State of Colombia's National Legal Defense Authority; (ii) the publication of the friendly settlement agreement that was reached; (iii) guarantees of nonrepetition in the form of training courses for the police forces involved in the events; iv) a request that the case be reviewed to clarify the facts surrounding Mr. Gómez Atehortua's death; and v) the granting of financial compensation to the victim's next of kin.

The IACHR appreciates the willingness of the Colombian State and the petitioner to enter into constructive, collaborative dialogue during the negotiations to reach an agreement whose content would allow the victim's next of kin to receive full redress for their rights. At the same time, the IACHR urged the State to advance toward compliance with the international obligations that derive from the agreement until it has been fully implemented.

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. 017/21