Human Rights Committee
Communication No. 778/1997
29 September 1996
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Art. 2(3): Duty to provide an effective remedy, Art. 6: Right to life, Art. 7: Prohibition on torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, Art. 9: Right to liberty, Art. 17: Right to private and family life
The complaint was brought by the family members of seven people who were tortured and killed by Colombian military forces in San José del Tarra including Luis Ernesto Ascanio Ascanio, who was 16 at the time. All of the victims were either in or near their homes at the time, and were taken into military custody without warrants prior to their deaths. The Colombian State did not deny that the military had been responsible for the illegal detention and deaths of the seven people. Several administrative and disciplinary investigations were ongoing at the time the complaint was submitted, but no criminal case had been opened. The State denied that the domestic remedies open to families were inadequate. The Committee found that there had been violations of the right to life, right to liberty and right to a private life with respect to all of the victims, and that the legal proceedings had not been sufficiently expeditious to constitute an effective remedy. The Committee also found that there was sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the prohibition on torture had been violated with respect to four of the deceased, including Mr. Ascanio Ascanio. The Committee also noted that where serious violations of Covenant rights are alleged, disciplinary and administrative remedies will not be sufficient.
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