Ousted Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro said Thursday he will sue Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for ignoring an international human rights commission’s ruling ordering that Petro be allowed to remain in office, reported national news.
Led by Jorge Molana, the legal defense team of the embattled ex-mayor will be filing suit with the Accusation Commission of the Colombian House of Representatives, a congressional body in charge of carrying out investigations against elected public officials like the president, reported the La Vanguardia newspaper.
At issue is Santos’ deliberate subordination of an order from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The ruling found that Colombia’s inspector general violated Petro’s political rights by attempting to remove him from office without a jury trial.
|“The commission orders that Colombia immediately suspend the effects of the decision of December 9 2013, emitted and ratified by the Inspector General’s office January 13, 2014, in order to guarantee the exercise of political rights of Mr. Gustavo Francisco Petro Urrego and allow him to complete the period of time, for which he was elected to serve as the mayor of Bogota on October 30 2011.”|
Colombia is a member nation of the IACHR, the highest human rights body in the Americas, and is legally bound by both the IACHR charter and Colombia’s own Constitution to honor the commission’s decisions.
After signing a decree Wednesday that finalized Petro’s removal from office, however, Santos argued that the IACHR’s rulings are “optional” and that adherence to court’s orders are only necessary when there is a “malfunction or failure of the internal system.”
The Santos administration has also indicated that the president will not attend an IACHR hearing on Petro’s dismissal, scheduled for this coming Monday. The President reportedly views the hearing as “pointless,” since the Colombian government has already rejected the IACHR’s precautionary order.
Santos’ noncompliance is hardly a unique case in the IACHR, which, though binding in theory, often sees its authority skirted by its member states.
A former Constitutional Court magistrate told Colombia Reports that he did not see a “direct and clear” violation of the Constitution in regards to Santos’ refusal to adhere to the IACHR’s ruling.
Critics of the inspector general’s original decision will still take issue with the president’s stance, though. Petro’s dismissal was widely perceived as being politically motivated, and a violation of the people’s right to elect public officials.
In December, Petro was removed from office and banned from holding future elected positions for 15 years for alleged “irregularities” in the former mayor’s attempt to convert the city’s waste management contracts to a public service.
So far there is no word on any potential congressional proceedings against the president. Santos’ U Party (Partido de la U) is currently the dominant party in the House of Representatives, where his ruling coalition enjoys a sizable majority. Santos’ choice of interim mayor, Rafael Pardo, comes from within the ranks of the Liberal Party, a prominent member of the coalition bloc.