Impunity - Colombia II

WHEREAS four years after the murder of journalist Orlando Sierra, assistant editor of the daily La Patria of Manizales, the attorney general’s office summoned Ferney Tapasco, former leader of the Caldas provincial legislature, whose name was mentioned by three witnesses more than a year ago as allegedly responsible for the journalist’s death, to give a “spontaneous declaration” WHEREAS the attorney general’s office accused Pablo Emilio Quintero Dodino and Bolmar Said Sepúlveda as the hit men in the crime against José Emeterio Rivas on April 7, 2003, but at the same time it closed the investigation against Julio Cesar Ardila Torres, former mayor of Barrancabermeja as the suspected mastermind WHEREAS in the case of the murder of Efraín Alberto Varela Noriega, of radio station Meridiano 70 on June 28, 2002, in Arauca, on July 27, Andrés Darío Cervantes Montoya, alias “El Chiche,” told a prosecutor that he had killed Varela Noriega and accepted a plea bargain WHEREAS among at least 15 investigations chosen to be given special treatment, the probes of the murders of Carlos Lajud Catalán (suspended in February 2006) and Gustavo Ruiz Cantillo (suspended in January 2004) were reactivated and their cases were transferred from Barranquilla and Santa Marta respectively to the Human Rights Unit in Bogota WHEREAS despite the firm commitment by prosecutor Mario Iguarán and Leonardo Cabana, director of the Human Rights Unit, to move forward on at least 15 adjudications of crimes against journalists in the last six months, almost 20 percent of the cases remained suspended and more than 45 percent were still in the evidence gathering stage WHEREAS in the IAPA Rapid Reaction Unit’s followup of the attorney general’s office’s effort to find those responsible for the murders of journalists, we have been able to establish that they need more resources and steady support from the Judicial Police WHEREAS between November 2004, when the Human Rights Unit of the attorney general’s office took over the case of the murder of Jaime Garzón (August 13, 1999) and today, it has made little or no progress, even though a judge asked the attorney general’s office to “separately and immediately pursue the investigation to identify and punish the hit men and other participants in the crime against the journalist” WHEREAS Principle 4 of the Declaration of Chapultepec says “Freedom of expression and of the press are severely limited by murder, terrorism, kidnapping, pressure, intimidation, the unjust imprisonment of journalists, the destruction of facilities, violence of any kind and impunity for perpetrators. Such acts must be investigated promptly and punished harshly THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE IAPA RESOLVES to acknowledge the commitment of the national attorney general’s office to strengthen the investigations in order to begin to obtain positive results in the cases of journalists Orlando Sierra, José Emeterio Rivas and Efraín Varela Noriega and request that the progress reported be translated into evidence that makes it possible for the judges to punish the masterminds behind these crimes to urge the national attorney general’s office that, in the process of reactivating the investigations of the homicides of Carlos Lajud Catalán, murdered on March 19, 1993, and Gustavo Ruiz Cantillo, murdered on November 15, 2000, to do the investigations with solid evidence and to that end to strengthen the human and technical resources so the judges can convict those who are responsible to urge the national attorney general’s office to take the steps necessary to reactivate all the investigations that are stalled in the evidence gathering stage, in some cases for almost 10 years, and to comply with the IAPA’s repeated request to review every one of the cases of crimes against journalists that have been shelved or suspended to determine if it is possible to reactivate them in the various regional prosecutor’s offices to urge the national attorney general’s office to provide greater human and technical resources to the prosecutors in the Human Rights Unit along with steady support from the Judicial Police so the unit can move forward efficiently in their investigations to ask the national attorney general’s office to explain the reason that there has been no progress in the investigation of the murder of Jaime Garzón in Bogota on August 13, 1999, and take immediate steps so that the investigative process will guarantee the hoped for results, the punishment of the murderers.