Committee considered the third periodic report of Colombia (CCPR/C/64/Add.3)
at its 1136th to 1139th meetings, on 2 and 3 April 1992 (CCPR/C/SR.1136-1139).
(For the composition of the delegation see annex VIII.)
The Committee expresses its appreciation for the State party's
well-documented report, which was prepared in conformity with
the Committee's guidelines, highlighting factors and difficulties
that impede the implementation of the Covenant and providing
information not only about laws and regulations but also about
actual practice. The fact that the new Constitution had not
yet been adopted at the time of the report's submission made
it somewhat difficult for the Committee to acquaint itself with
the current situation, but the additional information supplied
orally compensated for this to a large extent. The delegation
endeavored to answer all questions from the Committee and its
members in an open and direct way, admitting the existence of
problems and negative facts or factors. The report and the additional
information provided have enabled the Committee to obtain a
comprehensive view of the human rights situation in Colombia.
1. Positive aspects
The Committee notes with satisfaction the positive effects of
the constitutional reform on the enforcement of rights enshrined
in the Covenant. That reform had been preceded by other reforms
of great importance for the strengthening of human rights in
Colombia, particularly the establishment in 1987 of the Office
of the Presidential Adviser for the Defence, Protection and
Promotion of Human Rights and the establishment of a national
Human Rights Unit in the Directorate General of Criminal Investigation.
In the same connection, the Committee notes the reorganization
and strengthening of the special judicial consequences for the
protection and preservation of the judiciary, as well as the
creation of the Office of the Government Attorney for Human
Rights (Ombudsman). Another positive aspect, which is attributable
mainly to the establishment of the Office of the Presidential
Adviser for Reconciliation, Normalization and Rehabilitation
and the institutionalization of the peace process, has been
the success achieved to date in the ongoing reconciliation and
normalization process encompassing insurgent guerrilla groups.
However, the most important factors for the improvement of the
human rights situation in Colombia seem to have been the introduction
and establishment of participatory democracy, as well as a firm
will to combat all forms of abuse of power, particularly violence
by the police, the army and paramilitary units. Finally, the
Committee expresses satisfaction that the approach taken by
Colombia to the right to self-determination of peoples has been
in line with the development of participatory democracy and
that Colombia is making real efforts to achieve full equality
for minority groups.
2. Factors and difficulties impeding the application of the
The Committee notes that the state of siege, which had been
in force throughout the national territory since 1 and 2 May
1984 and which had impeded to a large extent the full application
of the Covenant, was lifted as from 7 July 1991. However, all
obstacles have not yet been removed. Peace has still not been
achieved with all insurgent groups and organized drug trafficking
continues, with a considerably negative impact on the implementation
of internationally recognized human rights. Also, paramilitary
activities have not ceased entirely. These factors continue
seriously to restrain citizens' enjoyment of their human rights.
3. Principal subjects of concern
The Committee expresses concern about the ongoing violence,
causing a rate of homicide, disappearances and torture which,
although decreasing, is unacceptable. Of special concern to
the Committee have been the murders of sectors of the population
in so-called social cleansing operations ("limpieza social").
Moreover, the Committee is concerned about the phenomenon of
impunity for police, security and military personnel. In that
connection, the measures that have been taken do not seem to
be sufficient to guarantee that all members of the armed forces
who abuse their power and violate citizens' rights will be brought
to trail and punished. Military courts do not seem to be the
most appropriate ones for the protection of citizens' rights
in a context where the military itself has violated such rights.
The persistence of paramilitary groups also causes concern.
Furthermore, the Committee is of the opinion that full guarantees
do not exist for adequate implementation of the provisions of
article 4 of the Covenant regarding states of emergency. The
committee also notes with concern that the principle of equal
pay for men and women has not yet been fully applied in Colombia.
The child labour issue is also a matter that violates the Covenant.
4. Suggestions and recommendations
The Committee recommends that the State party should intensify
its action against all violence resulting in human rights violations.
It should eliminate impunity; strengthen safeguards for individuals
vis-à-vis the armed forces; limit the competence of the
military courts to internal issues of discipline and similar
matters so that violations of citizens' rights will fall under
the competence of ordinary courts of law; and disband all paramilitary
groups. The Committee also urges the State party to deal more
effectively with problems relating to child labour. Finally,
the Committee calls for bringing emergency legislation into
conformity with article 4 of the Covenant.