Inter-American Court to review genocide of Patriotic Union political party

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) will review a request to investigate Colombian state involvement in the terror campaign conducted against the Patriotic Union (Unión Patriótica, UP) political party during the 1980s and 1990s. The decision comes 25 years after the request was initially made, and follows the Colombian justice system’s recognition of the violence against the UP as a crime against humanity.

The petition submitted by the Re-initiate Corporation (Corporación Reiniciar) identifies 6,528 victims of the repression against the UP, a figure which includes 3,136 murders. The petition was first filed with the IACHR in 1993 but was impeded by successive Colombian governments.

Formed of demobilised guerrillas, communists and other left-wing groups, the UP was created in 1985 as a core element of the peace agreement between the Belisario Betancur government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Following some electoral success, paramilitaries and state security forces launched a campaign of eradication, often referred to in Colombia as a ‘political genocide’, which aimed to eradicate the party and its members. Among the thousands of people were killed in the subsequent few years were two presidential candidates, 13 MPs, seventy councillors and eleven mayors.

The Re-initiate Corporation and victims’ groups hope that the IACHR will increase pressure on the Colombian state to compensate the thousands of people affected by the violence.