A.      Historical Origins


34.  After having left behind the bipartisan (Liberal vs. Conservative) civil wars of the XIX and early XX centuries, Colombian society faced a period known as "La Violencia" after the change in government in 1946 that saw power change hands from the Liberal Party to the Conservative party.  In the 1950s, a violent confrontation occurred between the two political groups and the persecution of Liberal Party members in the rural areas laid the foundation for the rise of armed groups.  The fall of the military government of General Rojas Pinilla on May 10, 1957 ushered in a period of reconciliation during which Liberals and Conservatives participated in the government through the Frente Nacional, or National Front, taking turns in government, in an effort to maintain stability.  During this period, the armed resistance groups linked to the Liberal party disbanded, laid down their arms, and rejoined civilian life.


35.  In the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, new revolutionary groups organized, and there was renewed violence.  That period saw the emergence of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia ("FARC"), the Ejército de Liberación Nacional ("ELN"), the Ejército Popular de Liberación ("EPL"), the Movimiento 19 de Abril ("M-19"), the indigenous guerrilla group Movimiento Armado Quintín Lame, the Autodefensa Obrera ("ADO"), and movements that emerged as dissident factions of the foregoing groups, such as the Ricardo Franco, among others.  The rise of these groups and the failure of efforts to reach peace agreements spurred on the development of a new type of violence called "bandolerismo" or banditry, which in the mid-1960s reached critical proportions.  Drug-trafficking emerged in this context as a destabilizing factor, through the violence used by the drug cartels to control politics and the trade in cocaine in the late 1970s.


36.  The State reacted to the resurgence of violence and in 1965 promulgated, as a transitory provision, under the state of emergency, Decree 3398, which provided at its Article 25 that “… all Colombians, men and women, not included in the call to obligatory service, may be used by the Government in activities and jobs with which they would contribute to re-establishing normalcy.”[54]  The decree also indicates at Article 33, paragraph 3 that “the Ministry of National Defense, through the authorized commands, may provide, when it considers it advisable, as private property, arms that are considered as being exclusively for the use of the Armed Forces,” with which groups of civilians armed legally.[55]  This Decree became permanent legislation in 1968[56] and the so-called “self-defense groups” were formed under these provisions, with the support of the military forces and National Police.


37.  These paramilitary self-defense groups had ties to economic and political sectors in certain parts of the country, and were especially strengthened in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  During that period, the paramilitary groups also established close ties with drug-trafficking.  Many of their key leaders became landowners and used violence to defend the drug business and their economic interests vis-à-vis the attempts of the dissident armed groups to extort and expropriate them.  By the 1980s, it became clear that these groups were responsible for committing selective assassinations and massacres of civilians.


38.  Among the criminal acts perpetrated at that time by the paramilitary groups was the massacre of 19 merchants who were traveling from Cúcuta to Medellín in a caravan of vehicles in 1987.  The merchants and drivers were stopped in Puerto Boyacá by a paramilitary group that acted with the sponsorship and collaboration of the official forces in the area. The victims were assassinated and their remains destroyed and cast into a tributary of the Magdalena river.  The Inter-American Court of Human Rights established the responsibility of the Colombian State for that massacre in view of its role in the formation of these groups under the legislation then in force and the direct participation of members of the National Army in the commission of acts violative of the American Convention.[57]  This massacre of civilians by paramilitary forces, with the collaboration of state agents, was followed by the assassination on January 18, 1989, at the hands of the same paramilitary group, of the members of the judicial commission that had traveled to the area to investigate the fate of the 19 merchants.  The alleged responsibility of state agents in this massacre, known as the La Rochela massacre, is being examined by the IACHR.[58]


39.  After the La Rochela massacre the State began to adopt measures, including legislative measures, to counter the armed control exercised by paramilitary groups in several parts of Colombia.  On April 19, 1989, the Colombian Government promulgated Decree 0815[59] by which Articles 25 and 33(3) of Decree 3398 were suspended to ensure that they would not be interpreted as legal authorization for organizing armed civilian groups in violation of the Constitution and statutory law.[60]


40.  On June 8, 1989, the State issued Decree 1194 “by which additions are made to Legislative Decree 0180 of 1988, to punish new forms of criminal conduct, as it is required for re-establishing public order.”  In its section on considerations, the law states that “the events unfolding in the country have shown that there is a new form of crime entailing the commission of atrocious acts by armed groups, ill-named “paramilitary,” constituted in death squads, bands of paid assassins, self-defense or private justice groups, whose existence and activities has a serious detrimental impact on the country’s social stability, which should be repressed so as to re-establish public order and peace.”[61]  Accordingly, this decree is an instrument for defining the crimes of promoting, financing, organizing, directing, fostering, and carrying out acts “aimed at obtaining the formation or entry of persons to armed groups of the sort commonly known as death squads, bands of paid assassins, or private justice groups, mistakenly called paramilitary groups.”[62]


41.  Considering that members of the military forces and National Police maintained ties with these groups, Decree 1194 also defined as a crime training or equipping “persons in military tactics, techniques, or procedures for undertaking criminal activities” and stipulated as an aggravating factor that the conduct was committed by active and retired members of the military forces or National Police or by state security bodies. As the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has established, even though the state alleges that it does not maintain an official policy of encouraging the formation of paramilitary groups, this does not release it from responsibility for the interpretation, for years, of the legal framework that gave them cover; for their disproportionate use of the armaments it provided to them; and for failing to take the measures necessary to prohibit, prevent, and duly punish their criminal activities. Moreover, members of the military forces and National Police in certain areas of the country encouraged the self-defense groups to take an offensive attitude towards any person considered a guerrilla sympathizer.[63]


42.  In parallel fashion, successive governments undertook to negotiate peace with dissident armed groups.  In the early 1990s, several thousand members of the M-19, part of the EPL, and the Quintín Lame demobilized as a result of the peace agreement that they reached with the government. The FARC and the ELN did not demobilize, and, according to figures provided by the Ministry of Defense, as of 2003 they had, respectively, approximately 13,000 and 4,000 members.  For their part, and despite legal prohibitions, the paramilitary groups continued to operate and in the 1990s they were responsible for a large number of political killings in Colombia.  In approximately 1997, the paramilitary groups consolidated nationwide in an organization called Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (hereinafter “the AUC”), organized in rural and urban units (bloques), whose publicly-stated purpose was to act in coordinated fashion against the guerrillas. According to figures provided by the Ministry of Defense, by 2003 the AUC had approximately 13,500 members.  These forces, paid and well-equipped, are organized in a series of units (bloques) known by the names Norte, Central Bolívar, Centauros, Calima, Héroes de Granada, Pacífico, Sur del Cesar, Vencedores de Arauca, and Élmer Cárdenas, which operate through 49 fronts with a presence in 26 of Colombia’s 32 departments and in 382 of its 1,098 municipalities.


43.  The illegal armed groups – both guerrillas and paramilitaries— have created a confusing combination of simultaneous alliances and clashes with drug-trafficking forces and with the official forces. In addition, after relative success in the offensive against the drug cartels in the mid-1990s, these groups assumed the business of controlling the initial phases of narcotics production.  The FARC and the ELN, and, since the mid-1990s, the paramilitary groups, also extort and kidnap. In recent decades, organized crime has had an impact on national life as well, affecting elements such as elections and the operation of the judicial system in large parts of Colombian territory.


44.  The problem of violence in Colombia is long-standing and very complex.  The stability of democratic institutions is negatively impacted by profound social inequalities and high indices of violence whose significance cannot be reduced to terrorist violence alone.  This is a situation that demands solutions, the search for which cannot be further delayed. Nonetheless, the road to peaceful coexistence is not simple: successive governments have failed in their efforts to eradicate the violence or have had only partial or relative successes.  Given this context, the complexity of the situation will no doubt require extraordinary efforts to regain peace and ensure the rule of law for all Colombians.


B.       The impact of the conflict on the civilian population


45.  In the last 15 years, the excesses committed by the actors in the internal armed conflict –in particular by the AUC and the FARC-EP— have taken the form of serious violations of human rights and/or international humanitarian law against the civilian population.  Specifically, massacres have been used as a strategy against members of the most vulnerable sectors such as indigenous peoples, Afro-descendant communities, and the displaced, and selective assassinations and forced disappearances were committed against human rights defenders[64], judicial officers, trade union and social movement leaders, journalists, and candidates for elective office who are repeatedly designated as military targets, mainly by the AUC.  The dissident armed groups –mainly the FARC-EP— have also used tactics such as detonating explosives indiscriminately[65] and kidnapping[66] in violation of the most basic principles of international humanitarian law, resulting in numerous civilian victims.


46.  The concentration of violence in certain areas of the country appears to reflect strategic objectives of military and economic domination. The departments hardest hit have been Antioquia, Bolívar, Magdalena, Norte de Santander, Cauca, Meta, Arauca, Caquetá, Cundinamarca, and Chocó, although there have been violent acts and displacement in every department.  The presence of the armed actors in local districts and municipalities has translated into constant acts of violence against or punishment of members of the community, who are perceived to be sympathizers of adversary groups merely because they never presented a resistance, now or in the past,[67] while also imposing models of conduct in the community and acts of social cleansing.


47.  At least three stages have been identified in the dynamic of the conflict over the last 15 years.[68]  In an initial phase from 1988 to 1991 the parties faced the consequences of the failure of a series of peace initiatives, culminating in the violent rejection of the 1991 Constitution by the FARC.  This period was followed by a second stage, from 1992 to 1996, during which the intensity of the conflict diminished and stabilized. Finally, a third stage, from 1997 to 2002, brought a renewed intensity to the conflict, especially in 2000 and 2001, with peaks of paramilitary violence against the civilian population,[69] including members of the Army, the Police, the FARC, and AUC killed in combat, and, significantly, civilians who were not legitimate military targets and were defenselessness.


48.  The IACHR has repeatedly stated its concern over the failure of the courts to clarify the facts in the overwhelming majority of these incidents.[70]  In those cases in which it is possible for the organs of the inter-American system to exercise their jurisdiction, for example, in cases in which state agents are alleged to be responsible by act or omission for the death out of combat of persons who cannot be considered legitimate military targets, the IACHR has processed petitions alleging the violation of rights protected in the American Convention.  A large number of complaints have been resolved by the Commission[71] and in some cases, they have been referred to the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.[72]


49.  Official sources allege that as of 2003, there has been a decline in the number of homicides and massacres perpetrated both by dissident armed groups – the FARC-EP, ELN, and EPL— and by the AUC. According to these sources, there was a 29% reduction in the number of homicides perpetrated by dissident armed groups and a 63.7% reduction in the number of homicides perpetrated by the AUC from August 2002 to June 2003, in relation to the period from August 2001 to June 2002[73] and an 84% drop in the number of massacres perpetrated in the same period by the AUC. The trend in 2004 suggests a 53% reduction in the number of victims of massacres, in relation to the historical high in early 2002.  As the IACHR has already indicated, this decline in the number of massacres has been attributed to a change in strategy geared to committing more selective homicides, which in turn have a lesser impact and allegedly a smaller political cost,[74] together with the partial compliance of the unilateral cease-fire that resulted from the rapprochement between the Government and the AUC to reach demobilization agreements.


50.  Other sources note that the levels of sociopolitical violence have remained high from 2002 to 2004, with more than 6,000 persons killed out of combat.[75]  The statistics prepared by the CINEP and Justicia y Paz data bank record 4,457 deaths from January to December 2003 attributable to extrajudicial executions because of abuse of authority (199), political persecution or intentional homicide (1,150), homicides involving violations of international humanitarian law (422), death in combat (1,849), and political assassinations by undetermined perpetrators (837).[76]  These statistics attribute the commission of 2,378 of these deaths to paramilitary groups and 235 to the Army.  In addition, they attribute a total of 294 homicides to the FARC-EP and the ELN, not counting other serious breaches of international humanitarian law.[77]


51.  Even though official sources refer to a 120% increase in the number of arrests of members of paramilitary groups and a 49% increase in the number killed in 2003, the continuation of acts of violence perpetrated against the civilian population has led the IACHR to express its concern over the manner in which paramilitary groups operate in vast areas of Colombian territory despite the presence of the military forces and the National Police.  The Commission has repeatedly stated its position on the State’s responsibility for the ties and degrees of cooperation between some members of the security forces and paramilitary groups in the commission of acts that constitute serious human rights violations.


52.  The widespread violations of human rights and/or international humanitarian law perpetrated against the civilian population, mainly in rural areas, are aimed at causing terror and displacement, and the unlawful appropriation of land and other property,[78] continues to exacerbate the humanitarian crisis affecting more than two million persons in Colombia.  Given this situation, it is necessary to find ways to put an end to the violence and to re-establish lasting peaceful coexistence.


C.      Background on efforts to resolve the internal armed conflict in Colombia
          and its legal framework


53.  Successive governments have undertaken efforts to end, through negotiations, the political violence that has affected Colombia in recent decades.  These efforts have been focused on reaching agreements for the demobilization of illegal armed groups.  The agreements were formalized under provisions adopted either by executive decree or by statutes passed by the National Congress.  These provisions provided procedural benefits such as termination of the criminal actions or of the penalty imposed in absentia in relation to the commission of political crimes, for example rising up in arms against the State, for those who demobilized.


54.  In March 1981, during the administration of President Julio César Turbay Ayala (1978-1982), the Colombian Congress declared, by Law 37 of 1981,[79] a conditional amnesty favoring those in arms who had perpetrated political crimes and crimes related to political crimes.  The law included an exception for kidnapping, extortion, and homicide out of combat, among others, and also excluded from the benefit those who were free illegally as a result of having escaped after having been taken prisoner.  This provision, applied retroactively, set a four-month period for availing oneself of this benefit.  In February 1982, by application of Legislative decree 474, it was declared that the criminal action and the penalty had extinguished in the case of political crimes and crimes related to them.[80]


55.  On November 19, 1982, under the administration of President Belisario Betancur (1982-1986), the Congress declared a general amnesty for political and politically-related crimes by means of Law 35.[81]  In June 1985 the Congress authorized the President of the Republic to grant pardons to those convicted of political crimes, with the possibility of extending the measure to related crimes.[82]  In December 1989, under the administration of Virgilio Barco Vargas (1986–1990), the Congress authorized the President to grant a pardon to those who had committed political crimes before the entry into force of Law 77.[83]  One month later, the Government regulated Law 77 of 1989, on the granting of pardon, which set the framework for the peace agreement signed by the National Government and the M-19 on March 9, 1990.[84]


56.  In January 1991, the administration of President César Gaviria Trujillo (1990-1994) adopted measures that made it possible to extinguish the penalty and the criminal action for political and related crimes by Decree 213.[85]  This provision provided a framework for the peace agreements entered into between the National Government and the Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores (“PRT”) (January 25, 1991), the EPL (February 15, 1991) and the Movimiento Quintín Lame (May 27, 1991).  The powers of the Executive and the Legislative branches to grant pardons and amnesties were defined in Articles 150 and 201 and transitory article 30 of the Constitution adopted in July 1991.[86]  In August 1991 the Government adopted Decree 1943 as a framework for the peace agreement signed with the “Ernesto Rojas” Commands, on March 20, 1992.[87]  In December 1993, Congress established grounds for extinguishing the criminal action and the penalty in cases of political and related crimes, by Law 104[88] as a framework for the peace agreements signed in 1994 with the Corriente de Renovación Socialista (CRS), the Milicias Urbanas of Medellín, and the “Frente Francisco Garnica” of the Coordinadora Guerrillera.


57.  In December 1995, during the administration of President Samper Pizano, the Congress through Law 241 modified and expanded Law 104 of 1993, making it possible to grant legal benefits to the self-defense groups, or autodefensas, if they would first voluntarily leave the organization and surrender to the authorities.[89]  In December 1997, Congress adopted Law 418[90], which in its Title III establishes grounds for extinguishing the criminal action and penalty in political and related crimes.  In addition, the provision extends in time Law 104 of 1993, which had already been extended, modified, and expanded by Law 241 of 1995.  This legislation covered the peace agreement signed by the National Government and the MIR-COAR on July 29, 1998, under Decrees 1,247 of 1997 and 2,087 of 1998.


58.  The administration of Andrés Pastrana issued Resolutions No. 85 of October 14, 1998 and No. 39 of 1999 by which the so-called “zona de distensión” (literally, “zone for easing of tensions,” often referred to as a “demilitarized zone”) was established in the municipalities of San Vicente del Caguán (in the department of Caquetá) and La Macarena, Mesetas, Uribe, and Vista Hermosa (in the department of Meta), in-keeping with the definition of Law 418 of 1997.  The objective of establishing this zone– with a total area of 42,139 km2— was to demarcate a space for negotiations with the FARC. These resolutions had the effect of suspending arrest warrants in force for those participating in the negotiations. The zone was originally established on October 23, 1998, for a period of three years and four months, and was extended in December 1999 by Resolution No. 92. Also in December 1999, the Congress extended Law 418 of 1997, by adopting Law 548.[91]  The decree of the zona de distensión was extended again in June and December 2000.  At the same time, the Congress adopted Law 589, which provided that forced disappearance, forced displacement, genocide, and torture are excluded from any pardon and/or amnesty.[92]


59.  Since the zona de distensión was established and the dialogue began, with the assistance of the international community, there was an upturn  in the acts of violence perpetrated by illegal groups.  The FARC were involved in attacks and kidnappings that took a toll of civilian victims. Finally on February 21, 2002, after almost four years, the talks broke off as the immediate consequence of the kidnapping of Jorge Eduardo Gechem Turbay, Chairman of the Senate’s Peace Committee.  President Pastrana immediately suspended the zona de distensión, thus ending his administration’s effort to negotiate with the main dissident armed group.


60.  These efforts to reach agreements for demobilizing members of illegal groups paid off in some cases with partial or relative gains, which have not ended the violence.  The demobilization mechanisms have not been accompanied by comprehensive measures to provide relief to the victims of the violence nor to clarify the many criminal acts that remain unpunished, and therefore the factors generating the conflict in large measure persist.  In addition, many of those who have benefited from past demobilizations have been victims of retaliatory attacks[93] and others have eventually chosen to join other illegal armed groups, re-engaging in the conflict.[94]  In any event, the mechanisms for demobilizing armed groups have not had the impact required to break the circle of violence in Colombia. 


[ Table of Contents ]

[54] Decree No. 3398 of December 24, 1965, “By which the national defense is organized” (“Por el cual se organiza la defensa nacional”).

[55] Id.

[56] Law 48 of 1968, “By which some legislative decrees are adopted as legislation, powers are granted to the President of the Republic and the assemblies, and reforms are introduced to the Substantive Labor Code and other provisions are issued” (“Por la cual se adoptan como legislación permanente algunos decretos legislativos, se otorgan facultades al Presidente de la República y a las asambleas, y se introducen reformas al Código Sustantivo del Trabajo y se dictan otras disposiciones”).

[57] See I/A Court H.R. “19 Merchants” Case, Judgment of July 5, 2004, Series C No. 109, para. 124.

[58] See IACHR, Admissibility Report No. 42/02, La Rochela Massacre (Colombia),  Annual Report of the IACHR 2002.

[59] Decree 0815 “suspending some provisions incompatible with the state of siege.”

[60] Decree 0815 reads: “That bands of paid assassins, death squads, self-defense or private justice groups, mistakenly called paramilitaries, are responsible for acts that disturb the public order; That by Legislative decree 3398 of 1965, adopted as permanent legislation by Article 1 of Law 48 of 1968, the use of civilian personnel in activities and jobs for re-establishing normalcy was authorized; That the interpretation of these provisions by some sectors of public opinion has caused confusion as to their scope and purposes in that they may be taken as legal authorization to organized armed civilian groups that end up acting outside the Constitution and the laws; That operations to re-establish public order are an exclusive function of the Army, the National Police, and the state security forces; That the National Government considers, in the exercise of the constitutional responsibilities incumbent on it, that in the current circumstances that fact of the laws mentioned being in force hinders re-establishment of public order;  That it is necessary to suspend those laws, since their interpretation by some sectors of public opinion contributes to creating an environment of confusion that stands in the way of pooling efforts to achieve reconciliation and have a negative impact on the action of the Army, the National Police, and security forces, to the extent that they erode the necessary solidarity of all sectors of the Nation;  That the National Government has always fought the existence of armed groups operating outside of the Constitution and the laws, and that accordingly it considers it necessary to suspend those laws, so that there not be any ambiguity whatsoever about the will of the Executive and of the Army , National Police, and security forces to confront those who are part of those groups, organize them, financial them, promote them, in on any way collaborate with them….”Decree 0815 “suspending some laws incompatible with the state of siege.”  See also, Supreme Court of Justice, Judgment of May 25, 1989, Justice Fabio Morón Díaz writing for the Court, declaring unconstitutional para. 3 of Article 33 of Legislative Decree 3398 of 1965.

[61] Decree 1194 “which adds to Legislative decree 0180 of 1988, to enact new criminal law definitions, as the establishment of public order so requires,” of June 8, 1989.

[62] Id.

[63] I/A Court H.R. “19 Merchants” Case, Judgment of July 5, 2004, Series C No. 109, para. 124.

[64]  See, for example, Report No. 5/03 Jesús María Valle Jaramillo, P519/2001, Colombia, Annual Report of the IACHR 2003.  Human rights defenders continue to be targets of constant attacks by the actors in the armed conflict, mainly the AUC in areas in which there is a frequent presence of the military forces or National Police, in an effort to stop their investigations and reports of grave acts of violence, aimed at judicially clarifying such incidents and making reparation to the victims. In addition, they have been confronted repeatedly by statements by President Uribe himself, calling into question their legitimacy and indicating that their orientation and activities are to be investigated. Indeed, the IACHR has received reports indicating that over the last two years there have been situations in which human rights defenders and social leaders have been deprived of liberty for prolonged periods, without the evidence needed to open proceedings. In this regard, the IACHR has been consistent in stating that the punitive power of the State and its judicial apparatus should not be manipulated to harass those who are devoted to legitimate activities.

[65] See, for example, Office in Colombia of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Informe de la Oficina en Colombia del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos sobre su Misión de Observación en el Medio Atrato” May 20, 2002 http://www.hchr.org.co/documentoseinformes/informes/tematicos/informes.php3?cod=1&cat=.

[66] See, for example, IACHR Press Release 13/03 “The IACHR deplores the death of the Governor of Antioquia and other FARC hostages,” Washington D.C., April 7, 2003 in http://www.cidh.org/ Comunicados/Spanish/2003/13.03.htm.

[67] See, for example, Report No. 41/02 Admissibility P11,748, José del Carmen Álvarez Blanco et al. (Pueblo Bello), Colombia, October 9, 2002, Annual Report of the IACHR 2002.  The case regarding the massacre of the campesino farmers of Pueblo Bello was referred to the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court on March 23, 2004.

[68] Jorge Restrepo, Michael Spagat, and Juan Vargas, “The Dynamics of the Colombian Civil Conflict: A New Data Set,” Royal Holloway College, University of London, June 2003.

[69] Noche y Niebla, Banco de datos, CINEP and Justicia y Paz, 2002.  See also Cifras de violencia 1996-2002 Justice and Security Bureau, National Planning Department (Departamento Nacional de Planeación), 1996-2002, Vol. 0 No. 1.

[70] The IACHR has expressed its points of view on the general human rights situation in Colombia periodically in chapter IV of its annual reports for 1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003, and in its “Third Report on the Human Rights Situation in Colombia”, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.102 Doc. 9 rev. 1, February 26, 1999.

[71] Report 1/92 Orlando García Villamizar et al. Case 10,235, Annual Report of the IACHR 1991.  Report 33/92 Alirio de Jesús Pedraza, Case 10,581, Annual Report of the IACHR 1992-1993.  Report 32/92 Martín Calderón Jurado, Case 10,454, Annual Report of the IACHR 1992-1993.  Report No. 2/94 Pedro Miguel González Martínez et al. (19 workers of the Honduras and La Negra Farms), Case 10,912, Annual Report of the IACHR 1993.  Report No. 1/94 Álvaro Garcés Parra et al., Case 10,473, Annual Report of the IACHR 1993.  Report No. 24/93 Olga Esther Bernal Dueñas, Case 10,537, Annual Report of the IACHR 1993.  Report No. 23/93 Irma Vera Peña, Case 10,456 Annual Report of the IACHR 1993.  Report No. 22/93 Patricia Rivera et al. Case 9,477, Annual Report of the IACHR 1993.  Report No. 15/95 Hildegard María Feldman, Case 11,010, Annual Report of the IACHR 1995. Report 3/98 Tarcisio Medina Charry, Case 11,221, Annual Report of the IACHR 1997.  Report 26/97 Arturo Ribón Ávila, Case 11,142, Annual Report of the IACHR - 1997.  Report No. 5/98, Álvaro Moreno Moreno, Case 11,019, Annual Report of the IACHR 1997.  Report No. 62/99 Santos Mendivelso Coconubo, Case 11,540, Annual Report of the IACHR 1998.  Report No. 61/99 José Alexis Fuentes Guerrero et al., Case 11,519, Annual Report of the IACHR 1998.  Report No. 36/00 Caloto, Case 11,101, Annual Report of the IACHR 1999.  Report No. 35/00 Los Uvos, Case 11,020, Annual Report of the IACHR 1999.  Report No. 7/00 Amparo Tordecilla Trujillo, Case 10,337, Annual Report of the IACHR 1999.  Report No. 62/09 Riofrío Massacre, Case 11,654, Annual Report of the IACHR 2000. Report No. 63/01 Prada González and Bolaño Castro, Case 11,710, Annual Report of the IACHR 2000. Report No. 64/01 Leonel de Jesús Izasa Echeverri, Case 11,712, Annual Report of the IACHR 2000.

[72] The IACHR has referred applications on the international responsibility of the Republic of Colombia to the Inter-American Court in the cases regarding the disappearance of Isidro Caballero Delgado and María del Carmen Santana perpetrated in Cesar in 1989; the massacre of civilians in Las Palmeras (Putumayo) perpetrated in 1991; the massacre of 19 merchants in the middle Magdalena valley in 1987; the massacre of civilians in Mapiripán (Meta) perpetrated in 1997; the disappearance of civilians in Pueblo Bello (Córdoba) in 1990; and the massacres of civilians in Ituango (Antioquia) perpetrated in 1996 and 1997.

[73] Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Colombia, Informe Anual de Derechos Humanos y Derecho Internacional Humanitario 2002 y Avances Período Presidencial, 2003, p. 167.

[74] See Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 2003, Chapter IV, Colombia, para. 13.

[75] See CCJ “Colombia: en contravía de las recomendaciones internacionales sobre derechos humanos.  Balance de la política de seguridad democrática y la situación de los derechos humanos y derecho humanitario.  Agosto de 2002 a agosto de 2004,” pp. 10 to 14.

[76] CINEP and Justicia y Paz, “Cifras de la violencia política enero-diciembre de 2003” and “Los Derechos Fundamentales” in Noche y Niebla 28, p. 27.

[77] Id.

[78] See interview with Salvatore Mancuso in El Espectador of November 3, 2004, in which he states: “it’s true that in the course of the conflict we have acquired some properties that have served as infrastructure for the defense scheme. You tell me that we’ve expropriated lands. I’ll tell you something: when I was trained in the self-defense scheme, the ones who were being displaced were the ranchers, the peasant farmers. In other words, displacement goes way back.”  See also, “Los señores de la tierra.  Grupos paramilitares se están apoderando, a sangre y fuego, de las tierras más valiosas del país.  Las víctimas están desesperadas y no tienen quién les devuelva su patrimonio,” in La Semana Issue No. 1152, May 31 to June 7, 2004, p. 224, in which reference is made to the methods and strategies used by paramilitary groups in different regions of the country to usurp titles through assassination, forced displacement, issuing unregistered deeds, and corruption.

[79] Law 37 of 1981 (March 23) by which a conditional amnesty is declared. Official Gazette No. 35760, May 14, 1981, p. 442.

[80] Legislative Decree No. 474 of 1982 (February 19) By which measures are issued aimed at the prompt re-establishment of internal public order.

[81] Law 35 of 1982 (November 19) by which an amnesty is decreed and provisions issued aimed at re-establishing and preserving peace. Official Gazette No. 36133 bis, November 20, 1982, p. 529.

[82] Law 49 of 1985 (June 4) granting an authorization to the President of the Republic, regulating the exercise of the power to grant pardons, and issuing other provisions. Official Gazette No. 37000, June 5, 1985,
p. 1079.

[83] Law 77 of 1989 (December 22) authorizing the President of the Republic to grant pardons and regulating cases of cessation of criminal proceedings and issuance of writs of prohibition (autos inhibitorios) in pursuit of the policy of reconciliation. Official Gazette No. 39116, December 22, 1989, p. 1.

[84] Decree No. 0206 of 1990 (January 22), regulating Law 77 of 1989 by the President of the Republic of Colombia, in the exercise of the powers granted by Article 120(3) of the Constitution, Official Gazette No. 39152, January 22, 1990, p. 1.

[85] Decree No. 0213 of 1991 (January 23), issuing measures aimed at re-establishing public order, by the President of the Republic of Colombia, in the exercise of the powers conferred on him by Article 121 of the Constitution, and developing Decree 1038 of 1984, Official Gazette No. 39642, January 23, 1991, p. 1.

[86] Article 150(17) provides that Congress has the power to “Grant, by two-thirds majority vote of the members of each Chamber, and for serious motives in the public interest, general amnesties or pardons for political crimes. In the event that those favored are exempted from civil liability with respect to private persons, the State will be obligated to pay any compensation where it is due.” Article 201 provides: “It is up to the Executive, in relation to the Judiciary: 1. To provide judicial officers, in keeping with the laws, the assistance necessary to enforce their rulings. 2. To grant pardons for political crimes, in keeping with the law, and to report to Congress on the exercise of this power. In no case may such pardons include the responsibility of the persons so favored with respect to private persons.”  Transitory Article 30 provides: “The National Government is authorized to grant pardons or amnesties for political and related crimes, committed prior to the promulgation of this Constitution, to members of guerrilla groups who rejoin civilian life in the terms of the policy of reconciliation. To that end, the National Government will issue the corresponding regulations. This benefit may not be extended to atrocious crimes or homicides committed out of combat or taking advantage of the defenselessness of the victim.” Constitution of Colombia, Gaceta Constitucional No. 116, July 20, 1991.

[87] Decree No. 1943 of 1991 (August 12) By which measures are issued on pardon and amnesty in the exercise of the power conferred on the President of the Republic of Colombia by Article 30 of the transitory provisions of the Constitution. Official Gazette No. 39964, August 12, 1991, p. 1.

[88] Law 104 of 1993 (December 30) by which some instruments for seeking co-existence, effective justice, and other provisions are adopted. Official Gazette No. 41158, December 30, 1993, p. 1.

[89] Law 241 of 1995 (December 26) extending the effect, modifying, and adding to Law 104 of 1993. Official Gazette No. 42719, February 14, 1996, p. 1.

[90] Law 418 of 1997 (December 26) by which some instruments for seeking co-existence, effective justice, and other provisions are adopted. Official Gazette No. 43201, December 26, 1997, p. 4.

[91] Law 548 of 1999 (December 23) “extending the effect of Law 418 of December 26, 1997 and issuing other provisions.”

[92] Law 589 of 2000 (July 6) “by which the crimes of genocide, forced disappearance, forced displacement, and torture are defined; and issuing other provisions,” Official Gazette No. 44,073 of July 7, 2000.

[93] See, for example, IACHR, Report No. 5/97, Case 11,227 (Colombia) Admissibility, Annual Report of the IACHR 1996, referring to allegations of persecution of members of the Unión Patriótica (UP), which was established as a political party after the peace negotiations between the FARC and the administration of Belisario Betancur.  See also IACHR, Report No. 63/01, Case 11,710 (Colombia) in Annual Report of the IACHR 2000, on the extrajudicial execution of two members of the Corriente de Renovación Socialista (CRS) involved in the negotiation to demobilize members of the ELN who had joined the CRS in the context of the peace negotiations carried out in 1993.

[94] Some demobilized members of the EPL have entered the ranks of the paramilitary groups. In addition, this alliance has been the basis for both the FARC and the dissident wing of the EPL to attack those who demobilized and formed part of the political grouping Esperanza Paz y Libertad.  See IACHR, Third Report on the Human Rights Situation in Colombia OEA/Ser. L/V/II.102 doc 9 rev 1., para. 96.  See also IACHR, Report No. 55/04, P475/2003 (Colombia) Admissibility.