FIDH and Lawyers’ Collective Present Communication to the International Criminal Court on Impunity for Crimes against Humanity Committed by Paramilitary Members

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organization in Colombia, the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CCAJAR) are submitting today to the International Criminal Court (ICC) a communication on impunity for crimes against humanity committed by paramilitary members in Colombia.

The document highlights the ineffectiveness of the judicial system for the crimes against humanity committed by paramilitary groups between 2002 and July 2007. The statement asserts that the status of procedures were inquired for two thousand four hundred and four (2,404) cases involving crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC. Colombia’s Attorney General’s Office provided information on one thousand nine hundred and seventy three (1,973) of these cases, or more than 82.07% of them. According to this information, for the total of these cases, 1,284 criminal investigations were initiated and six hundred and eighty nine (689) cases were not investigated. Out of the 1,284 investigations initiated, only 24.72% are currently active and only 55 reached indictments or were sent for trial. Moreover, the Attorney General’s Office has failed to investigate those with the greatest responsibility, as well as those having committed the most serious crimes. The investigations have not taken into consideration the systematic and widespread character of the crimes. In short, impunity is being handed out to perpetrators of serious violations of human rights which constitute crimes against humanity.

This indicates that the Colombian state has neither the will nor the ability to genuinely investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators of crimes against humanity, which means that in application of the complementarity principle, the International Criminal Court is to open the corresponding investigation with the purpose of preventing impunity and of obtaining truth, justice, and full and complete reparation, which are victims’ fundamental rights.

Since 2005, FIDH and CCAJAR have been submitting communications to the ICC demonstrating the Colombian state’s unwillingness and inability to carry out investigations and/or prosecutions of those who bear the greatest responsibility for the commission of crimes against humanity.

In late August this year, CCAJAR, together with other Colombian NGOs, submitted to the ICC Prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, during his visit to Colombia, a communication on the extradition in May 2008 of 14 paramilitary leaders to the United States of America to face drug-trafficking charges, thus demonstrating the Colombian state’s inability to investigate and prosecute those responsible for committing crimes against humanity.

Our organizations reiterate their concern in this respect [1].
and recall that the ICC Prosecutor put the following question to the Colombian authorities: "How will those who bear the greatest responsibility for crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC be brought to trial, including political leaders and members of Congress allegedly linked to the demobilized groups?" To this, he added: "In particular, I would like to know if the investigations conducted so far indicate criminal behaviour within the jurisdiction of the ICC and if the extradition of the paramilitary leaders represents an obstacle to the effective investigation of the mentioned politicians." These queries, among others, were formulated during the Prosecutor’s second visit to Colombia in less than one year. [2] He recalled on this occasion that his office "is analyzing the Colombian situation in light of the Rome Statute, which was ratified by Colombia."

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