REPORT Nº 75/01
CASE 12.266
EL ARO, ITUANGO
COLOMBIA
October 10, 2001
I.

SUMMARY

1. On March 3, 2000, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “the
Commission”) received a petition submitted by the Grupo Interdisciplinario por los Derechos
Humanos (hereinafter “the petitioners”) alleging that from October 22 to November 12, 1997,
members of groups operating outside the law known as “paramilitary groups” executed Arnulfo
Sánchez, José Darío Martínez, Olcris Fail Díaz, Wilmar Restrepo (a minor), Omar Ortiz, Fabio
Antonio Zulueta, Otoniel de Jesús Tejada Tejada, Omar Iván Gutiérrez, Guillermo Andrés
Mendoza, Nelson Palacio Cárdenas, Luis Modesto Múnera, Marco Aurelio Areiza, Rosa Barrera,
Dora Luz Areiza, and Alberto Correa (hereinafter “the victims”) with the tolerance of state
agents, during a pre-announced armed incursion in the district (Corregimiento) of El Aro,
municipality of Ituango, department of Antioquia, Republic of Colombia (hereinafter “the State”
or “the Colombian State”). The petitioners allege that these acts were carried out with the
tolerance or acquiescence of state agents.
2. The petitioners alleges that the State is responsible for violating the rights to life, humane
treatment, personal liberty, protection of the family, and property, enshrined in Articles 4, 5,
7, 8, 17, and 21, as well as the general obligation to ensure the enjoyment of the human
rights protected in the American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter “the American
Convention”) to the detriment of the victims. The State asked the Commission to declare the
claim inadmissible for failure to meet the requirement of prior exhaustion of domestic
remedies, established in Article 46(1)(a) of the American Convention. In this respect, the
petitioners alleged that the claim should be considered to fall within the exception provided for
at Article 46(2)(c) of the American Convention, and that the Commission was therefore
competent to examine it.
3. Based on the analysis of the parties’ positions, the Commission concluded that it is
competent to take cognizance of the claim submitted by the petitioners, and that the case is
admissible under Articles 46 and 47 of the American Convention.
II.

PROCESSING BEFORE THE COMMISSION

4. On April 11, 2000, the Commission proceeded to process the petition as number 12.226,
and to forward the pertinent parts to the Colombian State, giving it 90 days to submit
information.
5. The State presented its response on July 14, 2000, and the pertinent parts were forwarded
to the petitioners for observations. On October 12, 2000, the petitioners submitted additional
information; it was forwarded to the State, which was given 30 days to respond. On December
6, 2000, the State submitted its observations. On February 26, 2001, during its 110th session,
the Commission held a hearing on the merits with the participation of both parties. On August
26, 2001, the petitioners submitted additional information. On October 2, 2001, the State
submitted its observations.
III.

THE PARTIES’ POSITIONS

A.

The petitioners’ position

6. The petitioners allege that from June 1996 to February 1997, the civilian population of the
municipality of Ituango, in the department of Antioquia, suffered a series of grave acts of
violence by paramilitary groups belonging to the Autodefensas de Córdoba y Urabá (AUC), at
that time led by Carlos Castaño Gil. The petition indicates that the AUC announced its intent to
carry out an incursion and that these threats were duly made known to the authorities. They
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