Colombian President Alvaro Uribe on Thursday issued an apology to victims of violence, but refused to acknowledge any State responsibility for the 1994 assassination of leftist Senator Manuel Cepeda.
Uribe said that although the crimes were not committed by his government, he was prepared to atone “with all humility” on behalf of the state, saying “Colombia must apologise to all its citizens.”
The apology came after the Andean nation was condemned by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) on Tuesday for the 1994 assassination of Patriotic Union (UP) Senator Manuel Cepeda. The IACHR accused the Colombian government of failing to adequately investigate the case and ordered a public apology as well as the payment of compensation to the Cepeda’s family.
Previously, the Colombian government had accepted responsibility for the death of Cepeda and admitted “profound regret.” However, on this occasion Uribe refused to affirm the State’s role in Cepeda’s murder, despite requests from Cepeda’s family.
“I cannot say that the state assassinated Senator Cepeda. What I can say is that he was murdered and that is very serious and cannot be repeated” said the president. He went further, accusing the judicial body of inconsistency in demanding an apology from Colombia, while at the same time “advancing false accusations” and “proceeding with hatred.”
The president also took the opportunity to invite the IACHR to visit Colombia and review the “democratic guarantees” which his eight year term has implemented.
It is broadly estimated that between 2,000 and 3,000 UP supporter were murdered in the 1980s and 1990s.