REPORT Nº 42/02
ADMISSIBILITY
PETITION 11.995
MARIELA MORALES CARO ET AL. (LA ROCHELA MASSACRE)
COLOMBIA
October 9, 2002
I.

SUMMARY

1. On October 8, 1997 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “the
Commission” or “the IACHR”) received a petition presented by the Corporación Colectivo de
Abogados “José Alvear Restrepo” (hereinafter “the petitioners”) alleging that on January 18,
1989 a paramilitary group, in coordination with members of the Army, massacred Mariela
Morales Caro, Pablo Antonio Beltrán Palomino, Virgilio Hernández Serrano, Carlos Fernando
Castillo Zapata, Luis Orlando Hernández Muñoz, Yul Germán Monroy Ramírez, Gabriel Enrique
Vesga (or Vega) Fonseca, Benhur Iván Gusca Castro, Orlando Morales Cárdenas, César
Augusto Morales Cepeda, Arnulfo Mejía Duarte, and Samuel Vargas Páez, and attempted to kill
Arturo Salgado, Wilson Montilla, and Manuel Libardo Díaz Navas, while they were collecting
evidence in their capacity as judicial officers, in the district of La Rochela, in the lower
Simacota valley, department of Santander, Republic of Colombia (hereinafter “the State” or
“the Colombian State”).
2. The petitioners alleged that the State is responsible for violating the rights to life, humane
treatment, and judicial protection enshrined in Articles 4, 5, 8, and 25 of the American
Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter “the American Convention” or “the Convention”),
and for breaching the generic obligation to respect and ensure the rights established therein.
As for the admissibility of the claim, they considered that the exception to the requirement of
prior exhaustion of domestic remedies, based on judicial delay, provided for at Article 46(2)(c)
of the American Convention, applies in the instant case.
3. The State, for its part, alleged that the victims’ deaths had been duly investigated in the
domestic jurisdiction, and that justice had been administered adequately in the first stage of
the proceeding. In addition, it noted that part of the investigation remains open due to the
complexity of the matter; accordingly, in the State’s view domestic remedies have not been
exhausted.
4. Based on the analysis of the parties’ positions, the Commission concluded that it is
competent to decide on the claim presented by the petitioners and that the petition is
admissible, in light of Articles 46 and 47 of the American Convention.
II.

PROCESSING BEFORE THE COMMISSION

5. On November 3, 1997 the IACHR requested additional information from the petitioners,
which was submitted on March 2, 1998. On April 1, 1998 the Commission processed the claim
under number 11.995, in keeping with the provisions of the Regulations in force until April 30,
2001 and forwarded the pertinent parts of the complaint to the Colombian State, and granted
90 days to submit information. In the face of the State’s prolonged silence, the IACHR
reiterated its request for information on December 19, 2000. On January 25, 2001 the State
requested an additional time period to comply with the IACHR’s request. On February 26, 2001
during its 110th regular session, the Commission held a hearing on the matter, with the
participation of both parties.
6. On March 5, 2001 the State finally presented its written response to the original petition,
which was sent to the petitioners. On February 14, 2002 the petitioners submitted copies of
official documents as part of the evidentiary support for their claim. On March 22, 2002 the
IACHR sent the State the list of official documents submitted by the petitioners, and inquired
into the necessity and advisability of forwarding to it copies of resolutions issued by its own

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