Rodríguez Vera et al. v. Colombia

Key Judgment


Legal Relevance

Keywords: Judicial Protection | Right to Know the Truth | Duty to Investigate | Duty to Prosecute

Themes: Search | Prevention | Justice and Truth

The Court considered that the State had breached the guarantee of an ordinary, independent and impartial judge, as investigations were initiated in the military criminal jurisdictions. The Court found that Colombia had failed to comply with a number of its obligations, including to initiate an ex officio, immediate and effective investigation; to act with due diligence in the first steps of the investigation; to carry out the necessary search activities to locate the whereabouts of the disappeared persons; and to clarify what had happened. The Court also found that the investigation of these events did not comply with the obligation to guarantee progress within a reasonable time frame.

Judgment Date

November 14, 2014

Country

Colombia

Judicial Body

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Articles violated

Article 1(1) [ACHR], Article 3(1) [ACHR], Article 4 [ACHR], Article 4(1) [ACHR], Article 5(1) [ACHR], Article 5(2) [ACHR], Article 7 [ACHR], Article 7(1) [ACHR], Article 7(2) [ACHR], Article 7(3) [ACHR], Article 8(1) [ACHR], Article 1(a) [IACFDP], Article 1 [IACPPT], Article 6 [IACPPT], Article 8 [IACPPT]

Articles not violated / not dealt with

Article 11 [ACHR], Article 12 [ACHR], Article 3 [IACFDP], Article 11 [IACFDP]

Facts of the Case

The facts of the case occurred during the events known as the taking and retaking of the Palace of Justice, which took place in Bogotá on 6 and 7 November 1985. On those dates, the "M-19" guerrilla group violently took over the Palace, where the Supreme Court of Justice and the Colombian Council of State were located, taking hundreds of people hostage. Despite information indicating the possibility of an attack, and multiple threats to judicial personnel, on 6 November, the Palace had only minimal private security.

A few hours after the M-19 occupation, the armed forces entered the basement of the building with military tanks, where there was a fierce confrontation between the guerrilla group and the military, using automatic weapons, grenades, rockets, bombs and explosives. Between 6 and 7 November, three fires broke out inside the Palace. The first survivors emerged on the afternoon of 6 November. Military intelligence authorities searched, interrogated and identified survivors in an adjoining house. Some survivors, referred to as being "special" or "suspects", were taken to the house's first floor, and several were taken to military facilities. Once detained, some were subjected to torture and subsequently disappeared.

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