Colombia’s Inspector General may be put in his place by a slap down appeal of a citizen who earlier this month managed to suspend the IG’s dismissal and 15-year ban from public office of Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro.
The IG could, in an ironic twist of fate, see himself sanctioned or even arrested for alleged contempt of court after failing to fulfill a January 14 ruling in support of a citizen’s writ of protection – a written document that can be filed by any citizen in protection of fundamental rights and which must be seen to by a judge within 10 days.
The writ, along with dozens of others which have also delayed the proceedings against Petro, was submitted by Colombian national Jose Gotardo Perez in an attempt to suspend and eventually annul Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez’ decision to suspend Petro over the mayor’s attempt to bring Bogota’s trash collection under state control.
The suit should have left the IG’s dismissal process hanging in the air until Ordoñez’ verdict has been confirmed by the State Council.
Regardless of the judicial order against him by the Court of Cundinamarca stating that the process of dismissal “will temporarily suspend the judicial effects of this disciplinary act until the administrative litigation authority decides on the lawfulness of the act,” Ordoñez reportedly continued in his course by delivering an edict to mayor Petro confirming his dismissal 10 days after Armenta’s ruling.
“The verdict on a writ of protection has an immediate effect, especially when precautionary measures demanding their obligatory fulfilment are invoked against a decision [such as the sentencing of Petro],” constitutional lawyer German Calderon España told Colombian weekly Semana on Thursday.
The immediate effects of the writ – in which Perez highlights the Colombian citizens’ constitutional rights to elect and be elected – was that the appeal be presented to the Council of State so that they may definitively rule on whether or not Petro was justly kicked out office.
In the meantime, the IGO was to halt any further action, and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was ordered not to sign off the executive order that would effectively conclude the process.
The unwavering Ordoñez has on more than one occasion declared the superiority of his powers when it comes to the control of public officials, an authority which is granted to the IG by the Colombian constitution.
In this particular instance, Ordoñez claimed that the writ was invalid due to the fact that the wife of the magistrate who delivered the verdict was an employee of the same municipality presided by mayor Petro.
The IG also assured that the IGO would appeal against the ruling, and as such had fulfilled its obligations towards the writ.
As the supreme powers of both the IG and a successful writ of protection are clearly stated in the Colombian constitution, it remains unclear as to which authority has the upper-hand in this unprecedented war.
According to Semana, should the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) see that Colombia’s justice system is not upholding its ruling against Ordoñez’s possible contempt of court, it could step in with the relevant precautionary measures.
Petro’s case has been in the hands of the seven members of the IACHR since the mayor flew to Washington shortly following the announcement of his dismissal by Ordoñez on December 9, supposedly due to the mayor’s failed reform of the capital waste collection services.