A group of Colombian citizens presented the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) with a letter Wednesday asking the international oversight body to reject the plea of Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro, who, since his premature dismissal in December, has been seeking protection from the commission against an alleged violation of his political rights.
Co-sponsored by former Mayor of Bogota Jaime Castro, the letter was received on Wednesday morning by IACHR Executive Secretary Emilio Alvares Icaza and claims that any intervention on the part of the IACHR would set up a “bad precedent” for Colombia.
The legal process set in motion by Petro, the acting mayor of Colombian capital, has revealed serious legal inconsistencies between the Colombian Constitution and the international treaties the country adheres to. Still, the letter argues, any intervention would be problematic for Colombia’s sovereignty.
The commission, according to the “amicus curiae” document – spontaneous information provided by a party that is not part of a case to assist a court — should not become involved in a case that as of yet has not exhausted all its resources for protective measures within the Colombian state, which has respected all the petitions and court proceedings that its citizens have the right to invoke.
“The interference of the Commission is neither appropriate nor timely,” Marcela Prieto, Manager of the Political Science Institute Hernan Echavarria Olozaga, told Spanish news agency EFE on Wednesday. “It would only be so if it could be demonstrated that alternative support is needed, and our position is to defend the effective action of our institutions.”
Colombia’s “control measures” when it comes to possible human rights violations by state entities include writs of protection, a written appeal that any citizen can submit and which must be examined by a judge within 10 days.
Followed his untimely ousting from office by Colombian Inspector General (IG) Alejandro Ordoñez, Petro filed an international appeal asking the IACHR take precautionary measures to defend his fundamental rights as a democratically elected official. The IACHR has been reviewing Petro’s case, even as hundreds of writs have been filed in his favor by Colombian citizens claiming a violation of their own rights as voters.
“[The IACHR] must reject the petition [for precautionary measures] in limine [requesting that evidence not be used in trial especially when subject to constitutional limitations],” the letter states.
“… Because the issue has already been resolved by the Constitutional Court.”
The word “resolved” may be a bit strong on this occasion, as Petro’s case is far from being determined. The Constitutional Court cannot comment on the increasingly high-profile issue, but it has previously confirmed the authority of the Inspector General to dismiss public officials.
Nonetheless, it is still unclear whether the writs of protection will take precedence over the IACHR process, and whether either will be sufficient to deter Ordoñez from attempting to follow through on the process he initiated, as he has indicated he intends to.