The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on Wednesday celebrated a Colombia court’s mandate to return formerly ousted Mayor Gustavo Petro to his public role, in agreement with arguments made by the commission.
“The decision of the Superior Court in the compliance with the international obligations of the State is very welcome,” said IACHR Executive Secretary Emilio Alvarez.
On March 18, the IACHR ordered a suspension of the dismissal of Petro, citing “precautionary measures.” The intent was for the measure to serve as a guarantee that the mayor is not able to be thrown out of office while the process of investigating alleged wrong doing was carried out.
Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos then ignored the IACHR’s order and allowed the dismissal of the mayor, but just this week reinstated the politician after Bogota‘s Superior Court ruled in favor of an appeal made by Petro grounded in the IACHR’s “precautionary measures” mandate.
“[It was] of the utmost importance to the IACHR to emphasize that the political rights are safeguarded as much as any other right,” said Alvarez during a press conference.
This statement can be seen as a direct response to opponents of Petro’s return such as initial instigator Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez, who refused to obey the IACHR’s decision because only cases dealing with one’s right to life were obligatory.
“[The precedents of Colombia’s courts] make reference to the right to life and the right to personal integrity, but not to political rights, and for this reason those precedents are not applicable,” said Ordoñez as justification why they did not need to heed the IACHR’s orders.
Ordoñez issued the first order of dismissal for Petro in December 2013 due to “irregularities” regarding the mayor’s execution of converting Bogota’s garbage collection contracts from private to public.
After the IACHR intervened, much debate arose over who has jurisdiction in this case: the international body of which Colombia is a member, or Colombia’s courts?
Alvarez ultimately expressed his respect for the judicial authorities of Colombia and said that his organization will be conscious that the process is “dynamic and in development.”
However because of this, the executive secretary affirmed that the IACHR will “continue to monitor the situation.”
Ordoñez and the greater Inspector General’s Office is expected to challenge Bogota’s Superior Court’s decision Thursday.