IACHR Announces the Publication of Report No. 41/21 on Case 13.642, Edgar José Sánchez Duarte and Family, Concerning Colombia

April 29, 2021

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Washington, D.C. — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced its decision to approve the friendly settlement agreement relating to case 13.642, Edgar José Sánchez Duarte and family, concerning Colombia, which was signed on December 9, 2020, by the State of Colombia and the victim's representatives.

On February 1, 2007, the IACHR received a petition presented by Graciela Sánchez Duarte and the Corporación Colectivo de Abogados Opción Jurídica alleging that the State of Colombia was internationally responsible for the extrajudicial execution of Edgar Sánchez Duarte by members of the now-defunct Anti-Kidnapping and Extortion Unit (UNASE) in the city of Valledupar, Cesar, and for the lack of investigation of these events and punishment of those responsible for them. The petitioners alleged that the rights to life, integrity, and personal liberty had been violated, along with a lack of guarantees and judicial protection and equality before the law.

On July 7, 2018, the IACHR issued Admissibility Report No. 81/18, in which it concluded that the petition was admissible in relation to the alleged violations of the rights enshrined in articles 4 (the right to life), 5 (the right to humane treatment), 8 (the right to fair trial), 17 (the right to protection of the family), 24 (the right to equality before the law), and 25 (the right to judicial protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights.

On July 14, 2020, the parties signed a friendly settlement agreement through which the State of Colombia acknowledged its international responsibility for the human rights violations that were committed to the detriment of Edgar Sánchez Duarte, according to the terms agreed upon by the parties. Likewise, the State committed to holding a public act of atonement and apology, to provide medical and psychosocial care for Edgar Sánchez Duarte's next of kin, to grant financial assistance to Edgar José Sánchez Fuentes, the victim's son, for the purpose of financing an academic program at the professional technical, technological, university, or postgraduate level, and to pay financial reparation in light of the mechanism established in Law 288 of 1996.

In Friendly Settlement Agreement Report No. 41/2021 the IACHR deemed that the commitments regarding the public atonement and apology ceremony had been fully complied with and had been duly publicized on the National Legal Defense Authority website, on various social media platforms, and in other media outlets. However, the IACHR deemed that the measures relating to medical and psychosocial care had not yet begun to be implemented and that the financial compensation should be paid after the approval report is issued, and therefore deemed compliance with these measures to still be pending. As a consequence, the friendly settlement agreement was approved with partial compliance. The IACHR will therefore continue supervising compliance with these aspects of the agreement until it has been fully implemented and urged the State to take the necessary steps to achieve this.

The IACHR monitored the development of this friendly settlement closely and praised the two parties for the efforts they made during the negotiations toward reaching a friendly settlement agreement that would be compatible with the objectives of the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights. The IACHR applauds the efforts that the Colombian State has made to reach solutions through the individual petition and case system's friendly settlement mechanism and congratulates it on having partially implemented this friendly settlement agreement. It also wishes to congratulate the petitioning party on the efforts it made to take part in the negotiation and move the friendly settlement process forward.

Friendly Settlement Report No. 41/21 on Case 13.642 is available here.

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate derives from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The IACHR is composed 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. 107/21