Case No. 1690 (Colombia)

Case No. 1690, August 26, 1970, denouncing acts of persecution and terror against Indian populations in the Planas region, Meta Department, allegedly committed by members of the Administrative Department of Security (DAS) and the Armed Forces.

The Commission began its examination of this communication at its Twenty-fourth Session (October 1970), during which it decided, in accordance with articles 42 and 44 of its Regulations, to request the Government of Colombia to provide the pertinent information.

In a communication dated December 11, 1970, the Government of Colombia replied by stating that the denunciation had been forwarded to the competent authority within the administration.

At its Twenty-fifth Session (March 1971), the Commission appointed Dr. Mario Alzamora Valdez, then a member of the CIDH, as rapporteur for this case. He presented a report containing recommendations on the basis of which the Commission decided to again request from the Government of Colombia information that would permit an examination of the claim.

At its Twenty-sixth Session (October-November 1971), inasmuch as that government had not yet provided the information requested, the Commission decided, in the absence of Dr. Alzamora Valdez, to appoint Dr. Carlos A. Dunshee de Abranches as the new rapporteur. On the basis of the report and recommendations presented by the new rapporteur, the Commission decided to request once again that the government send the pertinent information, granting a 90-day extension beyond the period set forth in Article 51 of the Regulations and, at the same time, forwarding the pertinent parts of the additional information received on the case.

In a note dated January 25, 1972, the Government of Colombia replied, sending documentation on measures adopted to promote the observance of human rights in the area mentioned in the complaint and in other areas of the national territory in which Indians lived. As for the forceful acts denounced in Case 1690, it rejected as "false and tendentious, with no proof whatsoever, the accusations submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States with regard to events in the Planas region."

At its Twenty-seventh Session (February-March 1972), the Commission considered this case, together with the information provided by the government.

The rapporteur, Dr. Alzamora Valdez, presented another report in which he recommended that additional information be requested "on the results of the investigations undertaken by national authorities in the place mentioned in the claim, so that the Commission might complete its examination of the case." On the basis of that recommendation, the Commission decided to request the Colombian Government to provide the following documents: (a) a copy of the report of the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic on the investigations carried out in the area of the denounced events; and (b) a copy of the report of the Office of the Military Court of the Seventh Brigade of the Armed Forces of Colombia.

Accordingly, the Commission addressed the Government of Colombia in a note dated March 29, 1972.

At its Twenty-ninth Session (October 1972) the Commission, in view of the fact that the Government of Colombia had not yet provided the supplementary reports requested on March 29, 1972, decided, against the recommendation of the rapporteur appointed at that time, Dr. Carlos A. Dunshee de Abranches (who had recommended that the case be filed without prejudice), to request that the government send the aforementioned supporting reports within 30 days. Upon the expiration of that period, the Commission would, pursuant to Article 51 of its Regulations, presume the events of the case to be confirmed.

The Commission sent a note to that effect to the Government of Colombia on November 1, 1972.

By notes of November 27, 1972 (No. 752), and February 7, 1973 (No. 75/60), the Government of Colombia transmitted the following information: (a) a copy of the report submitted to the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic by the agricultural and juridical advisers of that Office on the events that had occurred in the Planas region, fully describing the measures adopted by the national authorities to correct the alleged conditions, and reporting as well on judicial proceedings and actions under way for investigating and punishing those guilty of the unlawful acts denounced in the case, (b) a copy of the official communication from the Ministry of National Defense dated November 23, 1972; (c) a copy of the official communication dated January 25, 1971; from the Commandant of the 7th Brigade of the Army to the Attorney General of the Republic of Colombia on the events in Planas; and (d) a copy of the official communication from the Principal Military Judge of that brigade, on the same matter. These official communications give an account of the status of the investigations and actions of the Military Criminal Justice System in the case.

At its Thirtieth Session (April 1973), the Commission continues its examination of case 1690, together with the information provided by the Government of Colombia, and decided the following:

  1. To file this case, without prejudice to reopening its examination should new factors arise to make such a step necessary or should the action of the authorities on behalf of those involved cease, and
  2. To send a note to the Government of Colombia, expressing satisfaction at the conscientious and open manner in which that government had provided the information requested of it.
  3. In compliance with that decision, the Commission addressed the Government of Colombia in a note dated June 15, 1973.

    Case No. 1749, August 24, 1972, denouncing acts of the Government of Colombia in violation of the right to free labor union activity.

    Because the claim did not meet the requirements set forth in articles 38 and 54 of the Regulations of the Commission, the Secretariat requested the claimants to complete it.

    The claimants sent information on the labor union dispute, on the actions of public officials, and on the remedies initiated both by the labor unions and by the companies affected, especially the AVIANCA airline, in order to deal with the matter by legal means before the Legislative Houses, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, and the President of the Republic of Colombia.

    By a note dated October 13, 1972, the Commission, pursuant to articles 42 and 44 of its Regulations, requested the pertinent information from the Government of Colombia, to which it transmitted the relevant parts of the claim.

    In a note dated April 2, 1973, the Government of Colombia replied, enclosing a copy of the report submitted by the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare to the International Labor Organization with regard to the complaints made to the CIDH and ILO.

    The following points are, in summary, those presented in the report to the Commission:

    1. The collective strike was declared illegal by resolutions 2043 and 2052 of August 16 and 17, pursuant to articles 430, 450, and 451 of the Labor Code. In light of these resolutions, the company could dismiss the workers without prior authorization from the Ministry of Labor.
    2. On August 29 the labor unions requested the Ministry of Labor to lift the sanction consisting of the suspension of juridical personality, asserting that they were willing to comply with legal standards, etc., and to make available to the Labor Union Audit Department of the Ministry all books and documents for purposes of accounting, etc.
    3. By resolution 2162 of August 29, the Ministry of Labor revoked the suspension of juridical personality, paving the way for a stage of conciliation between the company and the workers that lasted until September 29, 1972, after which time a compulsory Arbitration Board was convened, as required by law, by means of resolution 2538 of October 6, 1972, in order to resolve the labor dispute.
    4. In view of the difficulties that arose with regard to membership on the Arbitration Board, the Labor Ministry appointed Dr. Alberto Aguilera Camacho as the third arbitrator, from a list forwarded by the Labor Chamber of the Supreme Court, in compliance with resolution 2739 of November 3, 1972.
    5. On this point the statement mentions the procedure followed by the Arbitration Board, maintaining that the three unions involved violated current labor standards and that at no time were labor union rights or labor union freedom impaired, nor were ILO conventions Nos. 87 and 98 violated the authorities limited themselves to safeguarding the interests of the workers, of the national economy, and of employee-employer relations, doing no more than implement the administrative steps for resolving the dispute.

    During its Thirtieth Session (April 1973), the Commission examined case 1749, together with the information provided by the Government of Colombia. In light of Article 39.d of its Regulations, it declared the communication inadmissible because the events or situations bore no relation to a disregard of the right to free labor union activity by the Government of Colombia, this decision to be made known to that government.

    In accordance with the foregoing, the Commission sent the Government of Colombia a note dated June 15, 1973.