Press Release

IACHR Welcomes Signing of Friendly Settlement Agreement in the Case of Geminiano Gil Martínez and his Family

December 17, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the signing of a friendly settlement agreement between petitioners and the State in Case 13,421, Geminiano Gil Martínez and his Family, Colombia.

Mr. Geminiano Gil Martínez was allegedly kidnapped on December 6, 1989, as he travelled from Granada, Antioquia, to a camp in the Santa Ana district (corregimiento). Authorities in the municipality of Guatapé later found his body (along with another person’s) and said he had died of a gunshot wound. The district public prosecutor’s office in the municipality of San Rafael closed its investigation into this case in 1992 and re-opened it in 2012.

On December 21, 2007, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights received a petition alleging the Colombian State’s international responsibility for the events that led to the death of Mr. Geminiano Gil and for failing to investigate those events. On October 26, 2017, the Commission said the petition was admissible and concluded that it had competent jurisdiction to assess alleged violations of the rights held in Articles 4 (right to life), 5 (right to humane treatment), 7 (right to personal liberty), 8 (right to a fair trial), and 25 (right to judicial protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights.
On December 4, 2019, in Bogotá, the parties signed a friendly settlement agreement that requires—as a reparation measure—holding an event in Bogotá’s Jesus Christ the Redeemer Military Cathedral to publicly apologize and acknowledge responsibility for these events, in the presence of high officials of the State and with the active involvement of the alleged victim’s family and their representatives. The State further committed to issuing and distributing commemorative materials and invitations for this event to acknowledge responsibility, as previously agreed with the alleged victim’s family and their representatives.

The State also committed to publishing the IACHR’s report concerning the approval of this friendly settlement agreement—if applicable—and to posting it on the website of the National Agency for the State’s Legal Defense. Finally, the State committed to paying reparations for material and immaterial damage caused to the alleged victim’s family, in keeping with Act 288 of 1996, to compensate them for any damages that have not been covered by domestic reparations.

The Commission values the collaborative dialogue between the Colombian State and the petitioning party in bilateral negotiations to design this friendly settlement agreement. The IACHR calls on the relevant authorities to seek compliance with the State’s international obligations based on this agreement, until the victim’s family obtains comprehensive reparations and until full compliance with the agreement is achieved. The Commission also values the good will of the petitioning party and its committed efforts to reach an agreement that allows the victim’s family to access a comprehensive restoration of their rights.

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. 324/19