Letter from Ivan Cepeda to President Uribe, ref IACHR Ruling on his Father’s Case

(Translated by Emily Schmitz, a CSN Volunteer Translator)

Bogota D.C., June 28th, 2010

Mr. Alvaro Uribe Velez
President of the Republic of Colombia
Bogota, Colombia

Mr. President of the Republic:

In the wake of the ruling by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights in the case of Manuel Cepeda vs. Colombia you presented a public apology. The terms and spirit under which it was pronounced have brought us to consider said declaration as unacceptable. Your statement, oblivious to the terms of the Inter-American Court case, has even brought new insults to the victims.

  1. According to the Inter-American Court, the involvement of the State in the August 9, 1994 crime committed by National Army members, in compliance with paramilitaries, against Senator Cepeda Vargas was never brought to light. This was clearly outlined by the Court in the following terms:

“The court deems that the State, responsible for the violation of Senator Cepeda’s right to life was not only involved with the actions of the two non-commissioned officials currently condemned for execution but was also involved in the actions of paramilitary groups and state agents. This has constituted a crime wrought in complexity and should be treated as such; a crime in which not all links between perpetrators are understood nor have they been named. Through this act of organized violence against the Patriotic Union Party, it can be noted that the planning and extrajudicial execution of Senator Cepeda Vargas could not have been carried out without knowledge and orders from superiors and heads of these groups.”

In your declaration you were unaware of the sentence and verdict which had been adopted in Colombia regarding this case. You also omitted that the National Government had acknowledged the responsibility of the States involvement in this crime before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and before its own Inter-American Court.

  1. Your declaration did not meet conditions stated in the Inter-American Court sentence (paragraphs 223 and 224) requesting that: the apology be transmitted live before official media sources on the commemorative date of the assassination in one solemn act made before both Chambers of the Republic in the presence of family and remaining leaders of the Patriotic Union Party. Additionally the sentence requested that the National Government be in contact with the victims on the details of said ceremony.
  1. As you know, in situations in which crimes against humanity have been committed, apologies must be made in one solemn act. Authenticity requires that statements are made without ambiguity and show the willingness to clarify them. Statements must also name victims and be clearly directed to them. Apologies may only be made in a truthful manner and if publicly stated, express awareness of the damage that has been caused and commit to not repeating similar actions in the future. None of these conditions were completed in your declaration.
  1. However the most deplorable aspect of your words is their lack of authenticity. They instead create new grievances for the victims through expressions such as:

“One cannot demand that International justice obligate (sic) the State to ask for forgiveness while at the same time proceed with false accusations, with hate, to unjustly mistreat fellow countrymen and the honor of governments.” “I do not understand how one can demand apologies in the name of hate.”

These malicious affirmations do not take into consideration that the international tribunal sentence has determined that you have already committed similar conducts which have violated the good name of the victims in this case (see paragraphs 205-209). Through the ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Government announced your disposition to complete the inter-American Court’s sentence. However your attitude openly contradicts this promise. Your constitutional duty is to obey the decisions of international justice. Despite this, we should remind you that in this case it is your personal responsibility. The creation of the watch group CONVIVIR, which you enthusiastically led, stimulated the surge of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, the illegal group that assassinated Senator Cepeda in collaboration with the National Army. It is also pertinent to mention that you proclaimed Mr. Jose Miguel Narvaez, an alleged criminal in this case, sub director of the Administrative Security Department where he has been your close associate.

-Ivan Cepeda

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