The IACHR condemns Colombia for forced disappearance of trade unionist

The IACHR condemns Colombia for forced disappearance of trade unionist

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CorteIDH) reported today that it condemned the State of Colombia for the forced disappearance of the trade unionist Víctor Manuel Isaza Uribe, which occurred in 1987.

In the ruling notified to the parties on Wednesday, the IACHR found the State responsible for the violation of Isaza's rights to legal personality, life, personal integrity, personal liberty and freedom of association.

In addition, he declared the responsibility of the State for the violation of the rights of access to justice and to be heard within a reasonable time, to the detriment of him and his family, and of the rights to know the truth and the personal integrity of these.

The case dates back to November 19, 1987 in the municipality of Puerto Nare, Department of Antioquia, when a group of unidentified men stole Isaza from the municipality's jail, where he was in pretrial detention.

Isaza Uribe was a member of the Single Union of Workers of the Construction Materials Industry (SUTIMAC) and a supporter of the Unión Patriótica (UP) political party.

The international court indicated that the Colombian State had a special position of guarantor with respect to the victim, who was deprived of his liberty.

"The agents who were in custody failed to effectively watch over their safety and protection, and given that the State's investigative response did not constitute a satisfactory explanation of what happened, the Court considered that an enforced disappearance was formed," the ruling cites.

The Colombian State had recognized in the hearings its international responsibility for the violation of the rights to judicial guarantees and protection, particularly for the lack of investigation and urgent search actions, as well as the right to personal integrity of the family members.

However, he denied that he was responsible for the forced disappearance.

"Before and after the forced disappearance of Víctor Manuel Isaza Uribe and until 1989, a significant number of members and leaders of the SUTIMAC union were murdered or disappeared and many others displaced, which revealed a systematic pattern of violence against them."

"This violence has been mainly attributed to the actions of paramilitary groups, due to the union's link with the Patriotic Union political party," the text stresses.

According to the Inter-American Court, the act was perpetrated by members of an organized paramilitary structure that at that time acted with the acquiescence of members of the security forces of the State of Colombia.

In addition, the court concluded that the "disappearance was related to the union activity of the victim, which would have increased a frightening effect on the other members of the union, for which it was determined that the State of Colombia is responsible for the violation of its syndical freedom".

According to the judges, the investigations carried out have not been effective, they have delayed in exploring lines of investigation aimed at unraveling possible patterns of joint action or complex criminal structures and more than 31 years later, the State has not yet clarified the facts.

As part of the reparation measures, the Court ordered the strengthening of protection mechanisms for trade unionists, representatives and trade union organizations, as well as to continue the investigation and search for Isaza.

He also ordered the medical and psychological or psychiatric treatment of the victims and pay compensation for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage.


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