IACHR Publishes Report No. 115/21, Concerning Case 13,171 Luis Argemiro Gómez Atehortua, Colombia

July 13, 2021

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) plans to approve the friendly settlement agreement in Case 13,171— Luis Argemiro Gómez Atehortua, Colombia, and to publish the relevant report. This agreement was signed on June 9, 2020, by the Colombian State and representatives of the victim.

This case concerns the international responsibility of the State of Colombia for a violation of the right to life of Luis Argemiro Gómez Atehortua, due to a lack of due diligence by officers of the State in their tasks to watch detainees at a detention center run by the National Police in Medellín. This led to the victim's death while in State custody.

On June 9, 2020, the parties signed a memorandum of understanding to seek a friendly settlement, which led on December 2, 2020, to the signing of this agreement. In the agreement, the Colombian State acknowledged its international responsibility for omitting to do its duty to protect the right to life, held in the American Convention on Human Rights, to the detriment of Luis Argemiro Gómez Atehortua. The State further committed to holding a public event to offer a public apology, posting the friendly settlement report on the official website of the Defense Ministry and the National Police; providing training to police corps involved in this case; assessing the option of requesting a review of proceedings concerning Gómez Atehortua's death; and paying financial compensation through the mechanism that was set up by Act 288 of 1996.

In Friendly Settlement Report 115/2021, the IACHR valued full compliance with commitments concerning an apology and the fact that it had been posted on the website of the National Agency for Legal Defense and on various traditional and social media platforms. The Commission further noted full compliance with the commitment to assess the feasibility of a review of proceedings concerning the events around Gómez Atehortua's death. The Commission considered that measures linked to the publication of the report on the Defense Ministry and National Police websites, training sessions, and financial compensation will need to be implemented after the approval report is published. The IACHR considered that compliance with these measures remained pending. This friendly settlement agreement has therefore been approved as having attained partial compliance. The Commission will continue to supervise compliance with pending items in the agreement until full implementation is attained. The IACHR urges the State to take any action needed to achieve full compliance.

The Inter-American Commission closely followed the implementation of the friendly settlement that was agreed in this case and commends both parties for their efforts while negotiating the friendly settlement, which turned out to be compatible with the Convention's aims and purposes. The Commission commends the State on its efforts to solve cases that are taken before the petition and case system—through its friendly settlement mechanism—and for the partial implementation of this friendly settlement agreement. The Commission congratulates the petitioning party for all its efforts to take part in negotiations and to seek implementation of this agreement.

Friendly settlement report no. 115/21, concerning Case 13,171, is available here.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 174/21

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