Impunity - Colombia

IMPUNITY/COLOMBIA Resolution of the Midyear Meeting Caracas, Venezuela March 28 - 30, 2008 WHEREAS in the past six months, the perpetrators in the killings of José Duviel Vásquez on July 6, 2001, in Florencia, Caquetá, and Carlos José Restrepo Rocha on September 7, 2000, in San Luis, Tolima, have been identified and arrested; Tiberio Hernán Bocanegra, the perpetrator in the killing of José Duviel Vásquez, is currently behind bars for another crime; and Ricaurte Soria Ortiz has confessed to aggravated homicide in the Restrepo Rocha case and requested a plea bargain, and he now awaits the ruling of a criminal court in Ibagué WHEREAS in the cases of Francisco Castro Menco, killed on November 8, 1997, in Majagual, Sucre, and Jaime Garzón, killed on August 13, 1999, in Bogotá, the Human Rights Unit of the Office of the Attorney General has requested that demobilized paramilitary fighters be questioned by prosecutors of the Justice and Peace Unit regarding their role in these killings WHEREAS the Colombian Office of the Attorney General assumed a commitment two years ago, in a resolution dated March 31, 2006, to pursue a total of 12 cases, but in the past six months no progress has been made toward removing the impunity that surrounds the killings of journalists Jairo Elías Márquez, Ernesto Acero Cadena, Gustavo Ruiz Cantillo, Gerardo Bedoya, Carlos Lajud Catalán, Hernando Rangel Moreno, Guillermo Bravo Vega, Amparo Leonor Jiménez, Guzmán Quintero Torres, Nelson Carvajal Carvajal, Efraín Varela Noriega and Francisco Castro Menco WHEREAS the murder case of Nelson Carvajal Carvajal is still at the evidence-gathering stage, and no progress has been made toward finding out who planned and carried out the crime WHEREAS the January 2002 killing of Orlando Sierra, managing editor of the newspaper La Patria de Manizales, which is considered the gravest attack on press freedom in the past six years, remains unpunished, and this case must be closely monitored WHEREAS Principle 4 of the Declaration of Chapultepec states, “Freedom of expression and of the press are severely limited by murder, terrorism, kidnapping, 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 MIDYEAR MEETING OF THE IAPA RESOLVES to salute the work of prosecutor Gustavo Reyes as the coordinator of prosecutors in charge of the investigations into crimes against journalists, and to commend the fact that the perpetrators in the killings of journalists José Duviel Vásquez and Carlos José Restrepo Rocha have been taken into custody pending their trials to request that the Justice and Peace Unit respond to the request from prosecutors in the Human Rights Unit that they question demobilized paramilitary fighters, under the terms of the Law on Justice and Peace, regarding their role in the killings of journalists, so that their confessions may be reviewed and used in the cases pursued by the Human Rights Unit of the Office of the Attorney General to request that the Colombian Office of the Attorney General announce as soon as possible its progress in implementing the resolution dated March 31, 2006, two years after it was issued to ensure that the killers of 12 journalists do not go unpunished to urge the Office of the Attorney General, the Foreign Ministry, and the Higher Judiciary Council to redouble their efforts to fulfill the commitments they assumed during the friendly-agreement meetings with the IAPA and through the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, so that those responsible for the April 16, 1988, killing of Nelson Carvajal Carvajal in Pitalito, Huila, may be brought to justice.