The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) and the Session on political genocide, impunity and crimes against peace in Colombia

Statement from the PPT panel of judges at the launch ceremony of January 26, 2021

As it has been extensively stated in many Colombian and international sources of information, the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal officially inaugurated on January 26, 2021 its procedure against the Government and the Colombian State, presented by a platform of promoter entities that group 126 organizations and more than 170 Colombian human rights defenders, artists, academics and political figures. The General Secretariat of the PPT considers that the official text of the declaration of the President of the PPT and the panel of judges is the most useful contribution to the visibility campaign, which by definition is the first and fundamental response that a tribunal of opinion makes to an accusation of such serious violations of human rights and peoples’ rights that were heard on that day.

The history of the PPT’s relations with Colombia is an extensive one. It began with the cycle of sessions on impunity in Latin America and Colombia, which went on from 1989 to 1991, which ultimately culminated in the hearing in Bogota in April 1998. Those who participated in the hearing on Colombia cannot forget that, in this session, the role of prosecutor was assumed by our great friend Eduardo Umaña who was assassinated several years later without the perpetrators of this crime having ever been brought to justice. This only confirms the permanent and pervasive impunity that we have denounced since then.

In 2006-2008, the PPT held hearings on the role of transnational corporations.. Today, we are about to start a new session on political genocide and impunity. More than thirty years have passed since the first hearing on Colombia, and serious human rights violations have continued, with a very high level of impunity, as has been noted in successive hearings.

The indictment that has just been presented shows an excessive continuity of the massive repression of social protest, from the case of the banana companies in 1928 to the present day. Almost a century ago, the role of transnational corporations was seen and denounced. However, these companies have continued their wrongdoings in the country since then.

The indictment also highlights the repression exercised against trade unionists and the murders of trade unionists; the political crimes, from the assassination of Gaitán to the elimination of the members of the Unión Patrióctica.

In the first hearing on impunity in Latin America, and precisely in Colombia, the Tribunal  described the reality of Colombia in this way: «A formally democratic government, on which an unusual and persistent execution of crimes against humanity is founded. Institutional violence (armed forces and security organizations), para-institutional (paramilitary organizations) and extra-institutional (hitmen and hired killers)…seeks to end every person and social, union or political organization that confronts the unjust socio-economic and political structures in force. The murder of popular leaders and opposition politicians, forced disappearance, massacres of peasants, bombings of rural areas, illegal detention, are several of the instruments used in the systematic and permanent violation of the most elementary rights”… and described the mechanisms of impunity, which have continued in force for many years …»

In its July 2008 session, the Tribunal  condemned the government of Colombia «for its participation, direct or indirect, by action and omission, in the commission of genocidal practices,…in the commission of crimes against humanity…and for non-compliance of its obligations to persecute genocide, …and crimes against humanity, and in particular the violation of the right to effective judicial protection and the internationally recognized rights of the victims of said crimes…»

Since the last session of the Tribunal, the armed conflict with the FARC ended and was concluded with the peace agreement signed by parties in November 2016. The bodies created by the agreement, theSpecial Justice for Peace, the Truth Commission and the Unity for the search of disappeared persons, continue to carry out their dedicated, serious and incredibly useful work. Nevertheless, despite this and the will of the Colombian people to live in peace, murders of social leaders, human rights defenders, indigenous people, peasants and peace signatories (members of the FARC) continue to be committed. Therefore, this is a continuation of what has been denounced in the previous hearings.

With these brief considerations, on behalf of the Tribunal, I accept the accusation presented by the Observatorio de derechos humanos y derecho humanitario, the Coordinación Colombia Europa Estados Unidosand the coordination of non-governmental and social human rights organizations, and I confirm that the 48th session of the Permanent People’s Tribunal will be held in Bogotá from March 25 to 27, 2021.

 

Philippe Texier, President of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal

on behalf of the panel of judges, composed of:

Andrés Barreda (Mexico), Luciana Castellina (Italy), Graciela Daleo (Argentina), Mireille Fanon Mendès-France (France), Daniel Feierstein (Argentina), Luigi Ferrajoli (Italy), Michel Forst (France), Esperanza Martínez (Ecuador), Luis Moita (Portugal), Antoni Pigrau Solé (Spain)

and the General Secretariat of the TPP, whose components are:

Gianni Tognoni, Secretary General, and Simona Fraudatario, coordinator.

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