REPORT Nº 25/03
PETITION 289/2002
ADMISSIBILITY
SANTO DOMINGO
COLOMBIA
March 6, 2003
I.

SUMMARY

1. On April 18, 2002, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “the
Commission” or “the IACHR”) received a petition submitted by the Comisión Interfranciscana
de Justicia, Paz y Reverencia con la Creación, the Comité Regional de Derechos Humanos “Joel
Sierra”, the Colectivo de Abogados “José Alvear Restrepo”, Humanidad Vigente Corporación
Jurídica, and the Center for International Human Rights of Northwestern University School of
Law (hereinafter “the petitioners”), in which it is alleged that on December 13, 1998, 17
civilians lost their lives and more than 25 were wounded (including 15 children) as the result of
the action of the Colombian Air Force (hereinafter “FAC,” for Fuerza Aérea Colombiana) in the
hamlet of Santo Domingo, department of Arauca, Republic of Colombia (hereinafter “the State”
or “the Colombian State”).
2. The petitioners argued that the State was responsible for violating the rights to life, humane
treatment, personal liberty, and judicial protection, enshrined in Articles 4, 5, 7, 8, and 25 of
the American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter “the American Convention” or “the
Convention”) to the detriment of the victims and their next-of-kin, as well as the generic
obligations provided for at Articles 1(1) and 2 of the Convention. Subsequently, the petitioners
alleged that the State was also responsible for violating the right to property enshrined in
Article 21 of the American Convention.
3. As regards admissibility, the petitioners alleged that the exceptions to the requirement of
prior exhaustion of domestic remedies pursuant to Article 46(1) of the American Convention
apply to the instant case because the investigation into the subject matter of the claim is in
the military jurisdiction, which is not impartial or independent, and therefore is not adequate
remedy to make reparation for the violations alleged. The State, for its part, alleged that the
claim is inadmissible for failure to exhaust domestic remedies. After analyzing the parties’
positions, the Commission concluded that it is competent to decide on the claim submitted by
petitioners, and that the case is admissible, in light of Articles 46 and 47 of the American
Convention.
II.

PROCESSING BY THE COMMISSION

4. The petitioners submitted the original version of the petition in English on April 18, 2002. On
June 24, 2002, at the request of the IACHR, they submitted a Spanish-language version. On
June 26, 2002, the IACHR proceeded to process the petition, identified as number 289/2002,
and forwarded the pertinent parts to the State, which it gave two months to submit
observations.
5. On August 26, 2002, the State requested a 30-day extension to present its response, which
was granted by the IACHR, until September 27, 2002. On September 27, 2002, the State
requested a new 30-day extension. In response, the IACHR reminded the Colombian State that
Article 30(3) of its Rules of Procedure bar it from granting extensions beyond three months
from the transmittal of the original petition, and that, therefore, it could not grant its request.
The State submitted its response on November 13, 2002.
6. On February 25, 2003, the parties participated in a hearing convened during the 117th
regular session of the IACHR, to present arguments on admissibility.

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