IACHR Publishes Friendly Settlement Agreement on the Kidnapping and Murder of the Zapata Álvarez Brothers, Concerning Colombia

December 18, 2023

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Washington, DC—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced its decision to approve and publish the friendly settlement agreement for Case 14.003, María Regina Ocampo Loaiza and others, concerning Colombia, through Approval Report No. 221/23.

The case concerns the international responsibility of the State for the lack of reparations regarding María Regina Ocampo Loaiza and other relatives of Martín Emilio and Héctor Gabriel Zapata Álvarez, who were kidnapped from the Municipal Prison of Granada by an illegal organization and later found dead in the municipality of Cocorná, department of Antioquia.

The parties entered into negotiations by signing a memorandum of understanding on December 20, 2021, and then signed a friendly settlement agreement on March 2, 2023. In the agreement, the State acknowledged its international responsibility for the violation of the rights recognized in Articles 4 (right to life), 5 (right to personal integrity), 8 (right to judicial guarantees), and 25 (right to judicial protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights in relation to Article 1.1, to the detriment of the family members of Martín Emilio Zapata Álvarez and/or Héctor Gabriel Zapata Álvarez.

The State undertook to implement the following reparation measures: 1) hold a public ceremony to acknowledge responsibility; 2) publish the Article 49 report on the ANDJE website for six months; 3) continue to advance judicial proceedings that move the investigation forward, leading to the identification of those responsible for the events; 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 the measures related to the ceremony to acknowledge responsibility had been complied with. It considered the other commitments to be outstanding and will continue to monitor them until they are fully implemented.

The IACHR acknowledges the efforts made by both parties during the negotiation of the agreement to reach a friendly settlement following a 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 efforts 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. 303/23

9:07 AM