REPORT Nº 5/97
March 12, 1997
1. The petitioners in this case (REINICIAR and the Comisión Colombiana de Juristas) allege that
the Republic of Colombia (the "State", the "Colombian State" or "Colombia") is responsible for
violations of the human rights set forth in the American Convention on Human Rights (the
"Convention" or the "American Convention") in relation to the persecution of the membership of
the Patriotic Union political party. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (the
"Commission") finds that the case is admissible.
2. The Patriotic Union formed as a political party on May 28, 1985 as a result of peace
negotiations between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (the "FARC") and the State of
Colombia presided by President Belisario Betancur Cuartas. The parties agreed, during those
peace negotiations, to the establishment of the Patriotic Union as a political party which would
enjoy the guarantees necessary to allow it to function to the same extent as all other political
parties. The State further confirmed that it would ensure that the leadership of the FARC would
be allowed to participate in political activities.
3. The Patriotic Union was not conceived as a political party in the strictest sense of the term, but
more as a political alternative to the traditional power structure that would serve as a vehicle for
the various manifestations of civil and popular protest. The Patriotic Union was also envisioned as
the political vehicle of the FARC for possible reassimilation into civilian life. The newly-formed
party received immediate support from opposition left-leaning political movements, such as the
Communist Party, and quickly obtained significant electoral success in elections in 1986 and
Allegations of the Petitioners
4. The petitioners have alleged that, since the formation of the Patriotic Union, its membership
has suffered systematic persecution, manifesting itself in extrajudicial executions,
disappearances, unfounded criminal prosecutions, attempted assassinations and threats. The
petitioners assert that the persecution of the membership of the Patriotic Union constitutes an
attempt to eliminate the party as a political force through violence and intimidation carried out
against its members and leaders. The petitioners allege that the acts committed against the
members of the Patriotic Union constitute genocide and the violation of the human rights
protected in the Convention.
5. The petitioners argue that the State of Colombia is responsible for the human rights violations
committed against the Patriotic Union on several grounds. First, they assert that State agents
have been involved in crimes committed against members of the Patriotic Union. Second, they
claim that the State of Colombia has not fulfilled its duty to ensure the human rights of the
members of the Patriotic Union party by failing to act adequately to prevent, investigate and
punish the crimes committed against the members of the Patriotic Union.
Position of the State
6. The State has argued that the petitioners' claim regarding genocide should not be admitted for
decision by this Commission. The State has sought to establish, among other theories, that the
* Commissioner Alvaro Tirado Mejía, national of Colombia, did not participate in the discussion and voting on this case, in
accordance to Article 19 of the Regulations of the Commission.