The Genocide of a Political Party – Unión Patriótica over 6,000 members killed in the 1980s and 1990s

Inter-American Court of Human Rights concludes state was responsible for a crime against humanity in respect to the elimination of over 6,000 members of the Union Patriótica Colombia’s Communist Party.

On 30 January 2023 the inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) declared the Colombian State responsible for the violation of human rights of 6,000 members of the Unión Patriótica (UP) the Colombian communist party.

The Unión Patriótica was formed on 28 May 1985, following a peace talks between the Colombian State and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC-EP). According to the Court, the UP saw a rapid rise within politics at the local level, in Colombia, as a result alliances were created between the traditional political elite, Security Forces and businessmen with strong connections to paramilitary groups worked to counteract the rise of the party, resulting in the assassination of over six thousand members of the UP.

The IACHR, verified that there had been systematic violence perpetrated against the UP that last for more than two decades across the whole of Colombia’s territory. Members of the UP were forcibly disappeared, massacred, extrajudicially executed, murdered and suffered, threats, attacks, various acts of stigmatization, improper prosecutions, torture, forced displacement, among other things. According to the Court, these acts constituted part of a systematic extermination plan against the UP, its members and militants, which included persecution by state agents, with the tolerance and acquiescence of state authorities, constituting a crime against humanity.

The ruling comes after three decades of judicial campaigning by victims and their families. President Gustavo Petro said he would ensure that the victims received reparations.

Senator Ivan Cepeda, whose father was assassinated in 1994 as he stood for the UP in the Congressional elections, stated, “This ruling is of enormous judicial significance not just for Colombia but for the whole world.”

In compliance with the ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Senate of the Republic of Colombia held a solemn session on 7 February 2023, where the full congress paid tribute to the leaders, family members, and supporters of the Patriotic Union Party.

The President of Congress, Roy Leonardo Barreras Montealegre, highlighted the importance of the Colombian State ensuring that this never happens again.

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