The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) on Wednesday rejected an appeal by Colombia to overturn a verdict that held authorities partially culpable for the killing of civilians in a 1997 massacre.
The original verdict made by the IACHR in 2005 was upheld and the government’s appeal rejected for the 1997 Mapiripan massacre case, where Colombian civilians were murdered by paramilitary forces in collaboration with the Colombian army in the town of Mapiripan, located in central Colombian department of Meta. The government will consequently have to pay their originally sentenced amount of $8 million in compensation to victims of the massacre.
“The sentence handed down on September 15 of 2005 will not be revised in the case of the Mapiripan massacre,” the lawyer collective defending the victims told news channel Univision Noticias.
The rejected appeal therefore requires that “the State adopt the necessary measures to effectively and promptly comply with the pending compliance that was ordered by the Court in its judgment on merits, reparations and costs [to the victims],” said one of the attorneys.
The government’s appeal was instigated by a controversy surrounding the massacre when a witness recanted testimony of her husband being killed in the massacre and only 10 of the 49 alleged victims could be proven dead.
The government expressed their outrage of the false testimony, with President Juan Manuel Santos calling the IACHR “mockery of international human rights system” and their lawyer accusing the defense attorneys of a “shameless conspiracy to defraud the Colombian state.”
Although the IACHR blamed Colombian authorities for the misinformation, stating that it was the authorities’ fault for not investigating or acknowledging any of the crimes or perpetrators in the massacre for over a decade, the court decided last year to review the ruling following the revelation and gave the government more time to submit evidence in their defense.
However, despite the still unknown confirmed number of people slaughtered at the hands of the AUC paramilitary in conjunction with government troops, the IACHR stuck by their original decision as reported on Wednesday, claiming that “given the time elapsed since the slaughter occurred, the state can not shift the burden of their own shortcomings to the Inter-American System.”