Press Release

IACHR Takes Case Involving Colombia to Inter-American Court

July 29, 2011

Washington, D.C., - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Case 12.573, Marino López et al. (Operation Genesis).

The case has to do with a counterinsurgency military operation, called "Operation Genesis," and paramilitary raids carried out between February 24 and 27, 2007, in the Afro-descendant communities of the Cacarica river basin, in the department of Chocó, Colombia. The Operation Genesis bombardments and the human rights violations committed in the paramilitary incursions—such as the torture and extrajudicial execution of Marino López, death threats, looting, robbery, and destruction of property, among other things—led to the forced displacement of hundreds of members of these communities, most of them women and children.

The victims were displaced for more than four years, living in overcrowded, precarious conditions. During their displacement, they were subject to acts of harassment and threats, and the IACHR handed down precautionary measures for their protection. The Commission concluded that these acts constitute a crime against humanity, since they are part of a pattern of massive, systematic, and widespread violence and were carried out in the context of the armed conflict. The authorities opened investigations, and a case is pending against a military general and five paramilitary members; however, the Commission concluded that the investigations were not carried out quickly and effectively, nor was there an investigation into the many violations that took place during Operation Genesis, the paramilitary incursions and resulting violations, and the forced displacement brought about by these events. The Commission also concluded that the courts had failed to act with diligence in pursuing criminal proceedings that would clarify the acts of violence and punish those responsible, and as a result these crimes remain in impunity.

The case was sent to the Inter-American Court on July 25, 2011, because the Commission deemed that the State has not complied with the recommendations contained in its report on the merits.

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 human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. 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. 80/11