Verdict of the International Tribunal Against Impunity: The Cases of CIUDAD BOLIVAR and CAZUCA
(Translated by Stacey Schlau, a CSN translator)
November 25, 2006
1. During the two days in session of the Tribunal against Impunity, November 25 and 25, 2006, in the Elíptico room of the Colombian Congress, the judges have learned of the dramatic violation of the most fundamental human rights, the crimes against humanity that have been committed, and the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of people.
Many inhabitants of Ciudad Bolívar and Cazucá are victims of this systematic and violent practice of using terror and intimidation to deprive people of their lives, their homes, their property, and their land.
There is also undeniable evidence of the practice of forced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, kidnappings, torture, sexual abuse, and intimidation by the army, police, and paramilitary groups in this area. It is necessary to stress that especially children and young people of both genders are the specific targets of the abuses. The situation represents an intentional policy and practice, and a strategy by government agencies, who use repression against the civilian population either directly or through paramilitary structures, in their quest to consolidate their social, economic, and military goals.
The crimes against the people of Ciudad Bolívar and Cazucá are not isolated acts nor are they secondary or indirect consequences of the armed conflict. They go beyond the realities of urban violence that exist in many cities of the world, and therefore constitute a specific modality of violence, linked to national and international economic, political, and military interests.
The crimes are therefore of the order of ³lese humanity²; they include systematic violations of fundamental human rights, such as the right to life and physical integrity, and are also a violation of economic, social, and cultural rights. The violations are so numerous and involve so many people that the government of Colombia cannot be exonerated from responsibility; according to national and international law, the government has the absolute obligation to protect and guarantee the rights of its citizens.
2. Consequently, the International Tribunal against Impunity declares that: the responsibility of the Colombian government is founded in the serious and unjustified denial of its obligation to guarantee fundamental rights; since it is the obligation of the state to protect its citizens, not to fulfill this obligation makes it responsible for the most serious crime, which has cost the lives of many people and has increased the pain and suffering of thousands and thousands of others.
Likewise, the Colombian government is also directly guilty, because of its socio-economic, military policies, and the actions of its police and security forces, which use excessive force, such as: forced disappearances; extrajudicial executions; forced displacements, including intra-urban ones; torture; sexual abuse; intimidation, arbitrary denial of freedom; limits on freedom of movement, association, and free expression; and not addressing the basic necessities of its population, in order that they may enjoy a life of dignity.
The complicity of the state in crimes against ³lese humanity² and serious violations of fundamental human rights is evident as much in the direct actions of state agents as in the existence of paramilitary groups, who are supported and legitimated by the authorities and offices of control. The State is guilty of complicity because of its direct actions, and not less for permitting and providing incentive for the actions of the paramilitaries, who effectively function as active and passive agents for state policy. The State is also guilty of the blatant situation of impunity.
Aside from the lack of protection of the most vulnerable citizens and the carrying out of crimes of ³lese humanity,² the state has neglected its obligation to sanction and corrects the situation and to ensure that the crimes are not repeated. The reign of total impunity as far as the violation of human rights and the hell of terror that the communities of Ciudad Bolívar y Cazucá experience is astonishing. The victims and their spokespeople are often not heard, their claims are not taken into account, and investigations are either not carried out or are meaningless. The victims and their family members are bribed, intimidated, or silenced; the crimes are hidden or justified as though they were the result of common delinquence or an effect of the armed conflict.
Impunity is in and of itself a serious crime. It is not just about a passive attitude about crimes of ³lese humanity.² It is the active institutionalization of injustice. Impunity is falsely justified as a necessary evil, in order to achieve ³pacification,² but peace is not possible without justice, and justice is not possible without truth. On the contrary, promoting a state of impunity denies victims their right to truth, justice, reparation, and the guarantee of these acts not being repeated.
3. The court takes the socio-political context of Colombia into account, including the existence of internal armed conflict. The Tribunal does not deny the existence of insurgency in the nation, in spite of the fact that their participation in the abuses of Ciudad Bolívar and Cazucá was not proved.
The government considers the insurgents the cause of the paramilitary phenomenon; nevertheless documents exist that show that the paramilitary strategy was adopted before the current guerrillas existed. On the other hand, the argument of the counter-insurgency struggle has no applicability to the abuses committed in the townships of Ciudad Bolívar and Cazucá.
Without justifying the prolongation of armed struggle, the Tribunal affirms that armed conflict is, in and of itself, a symptom of the social and economic structure characterized by social injustice. The existence of insurgent groups has generally corresponded to generalized poverty, lack of opportunities, and social inequality; as well as to the imposition of an economic model that favors the interests of transnational companies and foreign investment that benefits the most powerful. This is the principal origin of the violation of fundamental rights and the crimes against communities.
4. This Tribunal finds guilty not only the Colombian government but also the international community and transnational corporations, who are complicit in supporting and financing the politics and practices of dirty war of the Colombian government.
The United States is guilty of giving its political and financial support, via the ³Plan Colombia² and the current ³Plan Patriota,² which, under the pretext of fighting drug trafficking, imposed a model of economic and social exploitation that has given rise to massive displacements of the rural population in several regions of the nation. Many of these people are inhabitants of Cuidad Bolívar and Cazucá.
The United States is guilty of financing and advising the military forces of Colombia, who are the concrete perpetrators of many of the crimes that are being denounced here. Even worse, the United States takes economic advantage of this situation, in order to gain contracts in various areas. The United States is guilty of having prevented a negotiated solution to the armed conflict, when it designates insurgent groups as terrorists and thus discards all non-military solutions.
The European Union is also guilty of complicity for its promotion and financing of the Law of Justice and Peace, and the system of reinsertion, since both permit the continuation of inpunished action of paramilitaries, with the social, military, and economic control that it has and will continue to have in the sector. Leaving the perpetrators without real sanctions is a clear institutionalization of impunity.
Other countries are also responsible for the violation of human rights in Colombia, such as Canada, since that country supports the process of demobilization and thereby legitimates the reign of impunity.
Transnational corporations from the United States, Canada, Belgium, and Switzerland in Colombia are responsible for this situation, not only for the destructive exploitation of the environment here and in other parts of the world, but also for being accomplices of the paramilitary apparatus.
In this generalized situation of violation of human rights the sequels to a domestic economic project imposed violently can be observed, and at the same time the consequences of foreign policy, specifically in the devastating results of neoliberal logic, in particular the imposition of the Plan Colombia and the Plan Patriota.
5.Therefore, the Tribunal condemns the Colombian government, represented by the president, Mr. Alvaro Uribe Vélez, for not fulfilling its obligation to protect its citizens and not guaranteeing the enjoyment of fundamental rights; for complicity in violations of civil, political, social, economic, and cultural; for maintaining an apparatus of impunity by not investigating, persecuting, or punishing the criminals; for not correcting the justice system and ensuring that crimes are not repeated; and for imposing an economic model at the expense of a life of dignity for the poor.
The Tribunal condemns the paramilitary groups of the area, specifically the Capital and Centaur groups and their leaders, for crimes against humanity and for imposing a state of terror on the civilian population.
The Tribunal condemns the repressive apparatuses of the Colombian government for crimes of ³lese humanity² and for not fulfilling its obligation to respect the law, specifically the army, national police, DAS, and ESMAD.
The Tribunal condemns the federal Attorney General for not fulfilling its obligation to investigate denunciations and protect victims and witnesses; and the Ministry of the Interior for not fulfilling its obligation to provide security for the people in situations of forced displacement and for not providing adequate humanitarian aid.
Finally, the Tribunal stresses also the political responsibility of the mayoral offices of
Soacha and Bogotá, for not providing the necessary infrastructure for people to have a dignified life, according to fundamental rights.
The Tribunal condemns the companies Cemex de México; Holcim de Suiza; and Ladrillera Santa Fe, for environmental destruction; complicity in imposing an economic model; and colluding with paramilitary structures that destroy the social fabric and violate citizens¹ rights.
Other countries in the international community, especially European ones, are condemned for their complicity in supporting the Colombian government in the imposition of an economic and military model, through financial support and political and moral legitimation.
The Tribunal against impunity holds the Colombian government directly responsible should any person who has participated in this Tribunal be harassed, persecuted, or their life or personal security attacked.
Submitted on November 25, 2006.
Father Francois Houtart Belgium
Father Javier Giraldo Colombia
Dr. Chistopher Ferguson Canada
Dr. Carmen Karagdag Phillipines
Dr. Orlando Fals Borda Colombia
Dr. Patricia Dahl United States
Dr. Alexis Ponce Ecuador
Bishop James Decker
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621