The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) claimed that the Colombian state was largely responsible for any errors made in calculating the number of victims of the 1997 Mapiripan massacre.
The human rights court made the claim in response to the Colombian state accusing the court of conducting a flawed investigation into the number of massacre victims.
According to the Colombian state, a number of false victims from the massacre have been receiving substantial government compensation as a result of an improper investigation.
The results of the IACHR investigations concluded that 50 people died in the 1997 massacre, while recent investigations by the Colombian government found only 10 victims. An investigation by the Prosecutor General’s Office found that some people who had bee recorded as victims were still alive or died in other circumstances.
The IACHR said in a press release that it was the Colombian state that presented the victims of the Mapiripan massacre and that it is the responsibility of Colombia to investigate human rights abuses within its borders.
In response to the Colombian state’s insinuations of fraud and conspiracy, the IACHR stated, “the commission reiterates that it is the state’s obligation to properly investigate the human rights violations that have occurred in Colombia.”
“For over a decade the Colombian state has had knowledge of these persons as victims and at no time did it call it into question,” the IACHR argued.
According to the press release, the challenge of determining the exact number of victims was exacerbated by the fact that the state was directly involved in the massacre and that the state failed to immediately investigate the crimes committed.
The IACHR announced that in 2005 the Colombian state fully recognized its responsibility for violating the rights to life, integrity and personal liberty of the victims of the Mapiripan massacre.
According to the IACHR, the reconstruction of the events in the case of the Mapiripan Massacre was based primarily on information that came directly from the Prosecutor General’s Office of Colombia, as well as information and official documentation that came from the Colombian government.
The Mapiripan massacre took place in July 1997, when around 100 members of paramilitary group the AUC travelled to the town to torture, kidnap and kill a number of the inhabitants.
The state of Colombia was subsequently condemned for human rights abuses by the IACHR at the international level due to the alleged knowledge and involvement of the state.
Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos recently called the 2009 ruling of the human rights court “a mockery of the international human rights system.”