REPORT No. 85/13
CASE 12.251
ADMISSIBILITY AND MERITS
VEREDA LA ESPERANZA
COLOMBIA1
November 4, 2013
I.

SUMMARY

1.
On July 1, 1999, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “the
Commission” or the “IACHR”) received a petition lodged by Corporación Jurídica Libertad (hereinafter
“the petitioners”), alleging international responsibility of the Republic of Colombia (hereinafter “the
State,” “the Colombian State” or “Colombia”) for the forced disappearance of 16 individuals2 - including
three children – and the execution of another,3 in the village of Vereda La Esperanza, municipality of El
Carmen de Viboral, Department of Antioquia, from June 21 to December 27, 1996.
2.
According to the petition, officials of the National Army coordinated with members of
the paramilitary group called Self-Defense Forces of Magdalena Medio the various incursions into the
village of La Esperanza because the alleged victims were perceived as sympathizers or collaborators of
guerrilla groups operating in the area. In that sense, the petioners indicated that most of these acts
were committed by the paramilitary group, which acted with the support or acquiescence of the
Colombian Armed Forces. One incursion would have been directly and exclusively perpetrated by the
Colombian Armed Forces. They also contended that there is a situation of impunity because not a single
person has been declared responsible for these acts. As for the admissibility requirements, they invoked
the exception for unwarranted delay set forth under Article 46.2.c) of the American Convention.
3.
The State argued that the petition is inadmissible because, in its view, it does not state
facts tending to establish violations of the American Convention. Specifically, it claimed that the acts
alleged by the petitioners were committed by non-State actors. The State denied the claims of the
petitioners implicating members of the public security forces, namely the members of the Aquila Task
Force (hereinafter “FTA” for its Spanish initials “Fuerza de Tarea Águila) in the incidents, inasmuch as
that the investigations conducted thus far have failed to establish the identity of the perpetrators. The
State also alleged failure to exhaust domestic remedies, specifically failure to file for a writ of habeas
corpus and that the criminal proceeding is ongoing. It contended that the domestic proceedings have
not yet shed light on the crimes because of the high degree of complexity involved in the case. Lastly, it
dismissed the claim that there is an institutional policy of support for paramilitary activities and a
practice of forced disappearance fostered and tolerated by the State.

1

Pursuant to Article 17.2 of the IACHR Rules, Commissioner Rodrigo Escobar Gil, of Colombian nationality, did not
participate in the deliberation and decision of the present case.
2

i) Aníbal de Jesús Castaño Gallego; ii) Óscar Hemel Zuluaga Marulanda; iii) Juan Crisóstomo Cardona Quintero; iv)
Miguel Ancízar Cardona Quintero; v) María Irene Gallego Hernández; vi) Juan Carlos Gallego Hernández; vii) Jaime Alonso Mejía
Quintero; viii) Hernando de Jesús Castaño Castaño, ix) Andrés Suárez Cordero; x) Octavio de Jesús Gallego Hernández; xi)
Orlando de Jesús Muños Castaño; xii) Leonidas Cardona Giraldo; and xiii) Andrés Gallego Castaño. The petitioners also named
three individuals as alleged victims, who have not yet been fully identified.
3

Javier Giraldo Giraldo.

Select target paragraph3