IACHR Court condemns Colombian State for the extermination of Unión Patriótica militants

Archive – Supporters of Colombia’s Unión Patriótica (UP) political party – SEMANARIO VOZ / FLICKER

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) on Monday condemned the Colombian State for the extermination of militants and followers of the Patriotic Union (UP), a left-wing party that lost some 6,000 of its voters to armed groups and law enforcement forces in the 1980s and 1990s.

According to the Inter-American Court, the rapid rise of the party among the electorate, especially in areas with a traditional guerrilla presence, created «an alliance» between the paramilitaries and broad economic and traditional political powers to «counteract» the push of the acronym in the new political scenario.

These crimes counted with «the participation of state agents, and with the tolerance and acquiescence of the authorities» and at the same time «the investigations into these acts of violence were not effective and were characterized by high rates of impunity», says the sentence, echoed by the Colombian media.

The Inter-American Court has pointed out that although the ruling is a symbolic form of reparation, it has also ordered the State to take certain measures to complete the reparations to those affected, among others, an effective investigation to establish the truth about what happened, to recover the remains of the victims, as well as an explicit recognition of the responsibility of the authorities.

The judgment also reproaches the then authorities for not only failing to protect UP sympathizers and militants, but also for «contributing» and «participating» in the attacks, thus damaging the reputation and honor of the victims and creating an environment of total vulnerability for them.

Before the verdict was announced, the president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, has taken to his Twitter profile to advance the content of the sentence and emphasizes that that «murderous State» should never return.

«International Justice is created when States are not capable of judging the worst crimes: crimes against humanity. This government will support national and international justice against impunity», Petro wrote.

The president said that his peace project does not only concern the armed groups, but also «that society of privileges» mentioned in the ruling, and that he asks them to allow the necessary reforms to walk «a path of greater social justice». «That is peace. The hand is still outstretched. But do not think that this government is kneeling,» said the Colombian president.

The UP was formed as a political organization in May 1985 as a result of a peace process between the government of then President Belisario Betancur and the now disbanded FARC guerrillas. The crimes subsequently committed against the party, considered crimes against humanity by the Attorney General’s Office, have their own judicial process within the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), Case 06.

The JEP puts the number of murdered party members at 5,733, among them several sitting congressmen and even two presidential candidates, Jaime Pardo Leal in 1986 and Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa, in 1990, as well as hundreds of local officials.