June 9, 2008

Permanent Tribunal of Peoples: Session Colombia

Bogotá, August 3 and 4, 2007
Translated by La Chiva Collective


The Permanent Tribunal of Peoples (PTP), established in 1979 as the successor to the Russell Tribunals, which at different times addressed both Vietnam (1966-1967) and Latin America’s dictatorships (1974-1976), in accordance with its mandate and constitution, is charged with giving visibility and clarification in legal terms to all those situations in which the massive violation of fundamental rights is not institutionally recognized, be they at the national or international level. Spanning its 35-year history and 33 sessions, the Permanent Tribunal of Peoples has accompanied, anticipated, and supported the struggles of peoples confronting the specter of violations of their fundamental rights, including the denial of self-determination, foreign invasions, new dictatorships, economic slavery, and the destruction of the environment.

The tribunal addressing the involvement of transnational corporations working in Colombia in the violation of human rights began in the month of April, 2006.

To date, the following hearings have been carried out: agriculture and food production (Bogotá, April 1 and 2, 2006), mining (Medellín, November 10 and 11, 2006), and developed biodiversity in the humanitarian zone of Nueva Esperanza in the Río Cacarica basin in the lower Atrato, Chocó (February 25 and 26, 2007).

The hearing has been preceded by four pre-hearings that took place in Saravena (December 11, 12, and 13, 2006), Barrancabermeja (March 22, 1007), El Tarra (May 19 and 20, 2007), and Cartagena (May 25, 2007), which have allowed for the direct participation in the process of investigation and testimonial collection of the communities most involved in and affected by the issues at hand.

The hearing took place in the head offices of the District Association of Educators, Southern Office, in accordance with the program detailed in Annex 1, and has involved around 400 people, principally from the regions affected by transnational petroleum activity. Also present were representatives from the international network Enlazando Alternativas [Linking Alternatives], which includes more than 80 NGOs from Europe and Latin America.

In accordance with the agreement with the international foundation Lelio Basso and the Secretary General of the Permanent Tribunal of Peoples, this fourth hearing has relied on the collaboration of the Transnational, Megaproject, and Human Rights Observatory for preparatory material and documentation of the accusations.

The jury named by the PTP includes the following judges:

- DALMO DE ABREU DALLARI. Professor of Law at the University of Sao Paulo, member of the International Commission of Jurists, member of the Advisor for the Defense of Human Rights of the Presidency of the Republic of Brazil.
- MARCELO FERREIRA. Professor of Human Rights at the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters at the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina).
- ANTONIO PIGRAU SOLÉ. Professor of International Public Law at the University Roviria and Virgili de Tarragona, author of numerous writings on international law, and member of various academic circles on the subject.
As co-judges:

- NATIVIDAD ALMÁRCEGUI. Secondary professor, Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT Spain) Coordinación del Seminario Solidaridad Política. University of Zaragoza.
- DOMINGO ANKWASH. President of the CONFENAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon).
- DIERDRE GRISWOLD. Journalist, representative of the International Action Center, former member of the Secretariat of the Russell Tribunal on the war crimes in 1967.
- RALF HÄUSSLER-EBERT. Theologian and Reverend of the German Lutheran Church, Directive Initiative Board for Central America.
- IVONNE YANEZ. Ecuadorian ecologist, South America Coordinator for the OILWATCH Network (a network for the resistance of petroleum industry activities in tropical countries).
With the attendance of Father Javier Giraldo and the Secretary General of the PTP, Gianni Tognoni, Italy.


Given the responsibility of the named companies, it is indicated that Oxy, BP, and Repsol have adapted common policies in Colombia. Such policies have cemented the plundering of natural resources and systematic violence against the population. For its part, this has implied the destruction of the social fabric, the carrying out of murders, persecution, and violation of the human rights of the majority, and the destruction of indigenous groups.

According to the accusations, the abuses of these companies seek to carry out population control and shut down all resistance to their activities. Various strategies have been used by these companies, not the least of which includes the exertion of pressure on the state, so that it may create policies favorable to these entities, such as the minimization of regulations, the flexibilization of contracts of association, the privatization of energy companies, the granting of physical benefits, and the handing over of more oil and gas reserves. Moreover, these companies have contributed to the militarization of the life of society, deepened by the application of Plan Colombia and the direct support given to the armed groups, both legal and illegal, and the promotion of corruption.

According to those experts who back the accusations, there exists a similitude of objectives among the three accused petroleum transnationals. This convergence is based in imperialist policies that have plundered Colombia’s petroleum reserves using various strategies, including the hiding of production test results, entering into contracts unfavorable for the nation, carrying out fraudulent transactions to evade taxes, using the national budget to provide infrastructure for exploration and construction, invading the ancestral territories of indigenous groups, entering into security agreements with private security companies and the military forces, and the violation, with the effective cooperation of the State, of every judicial point that regulates such activity in Colombia. This behavior is symbolized by their more than 605 million dollars in profits obtained in 2005.

According to the accusations, obtaining these profits means evoking fear in their enemies without discriminating among environmentalists, workers, campesinos, and indigenous peoples who oppose these policies and who, in the words of the neoliberals, “create restrictions to the efficient functioning of markets”.

It is known that oil and gas are non-renewable natural resources. Therefore, their extraction is definitive, and the country that inevitably consumes its reserves will not recuperate them, assuming new deposits are not found. If Colombia is dedicated to irrationally exporting its petroleum (as it has done with Caño Limón, Cusiana, and Cupiagua, deposits that have combined reserves of 3.5 billion barrels), in less than 15 years, these mega-deposits will dry up. An example of this is that, while the life of the largest discoveries in Colombia will not last 30 years, the exploitation of Cira Infantas, another gigantic deposit now in the hands of Oxy, could last 100 years.

The rate of extraction has been so rapid that, according to Ecopetrol, by 2002, Oxy had extracted from Caño Limón 750,000 barrels of oil, while BP, in Cusiana and Cupiaga, had taken 806 million barrels. To date, both deposits have produced 2.5 billion barrels with a total value of more than 60 billion dollars, a sum that is almost equivalent to Colombia’s combined internal and external public and national private debt.

The particular accusations presented against the petroleum companies and the Colombian government are the following:

Oxy and Repsol are co-players in a variety of business activities. Repsol has come to complement the activities of Occidental in Colombia. As has been its practice, the US multinational, Oxy, sold part of its share in the Caño Limón deposit to Repsol, the Spanish transnational. After reacquiring Shell’s share, through the purchase of Colcito, which became Occidental Andina, Oxy sold, through Oxycol, 6.25% of its shares to the transnational Repsol YPF. That transaction was reported to be worth 150 million dollars. With this agreement, Repsol began to participate as a minority player in the association agreement Cravo Norte, made between Ecopetrol, holding 50%, and Oxy, represented by its subsidiaries, Occidental Andina, holding 25%, and Occidental de Colombia, holding 18.75%.

Repsol, whose principal players are Spanish financial conglomerates (starting with La Caixa, which controls 31%, followed by the Basque-based Bank, Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, with 9%, and the Castilian energy company, Iberdrola, with 3.5% of shares), has a growing amount of investment from US capital. One of this company’s US-based action holders is the Brandes investment fund, which controls 9.4% of its ownership. Furthermore, the Spanish-based petroleum company is developing a growing association with the Occidental Petroleum Corporation.

With the acquisition of part of the ownership of Caño Limón in 2003, Repsol bought enormous responsibility in the genocide committed by the US multinational against the Arauca population. It was also associated with ethnocide (which has claimed as victims both the Guahíbo and U’wa peoples), the environmental destruction originating from petroleum exploitation, and the brutal plundering of natural resources carried out by the multinational companies. Above all, it joined in a counterinsurgency project and an extremely aggressive war against the civil population.

Repsol YPF owns mining rights in Colombia in 8 blocks, 7 of which are for exploration. It has under its control an area of 7,863 square kilometers. Also, through the company Natural Gas, it is the most important provider of home heating fuel in the country. This company has monopolized the distribution of natural gas in Bogotá, the Cundinamarca and Boyacá highlands, and the Eastern region, accumulating more than 1.5 million customers.

In the case of Arauca, it has established a tight alliance with Oxy and its militarization project. It has consistently helped in the intensification of conflicts in the region. For example, its arrival coincided with the first paramilitary actions in the town of Tame, one of the municipalities in which the company explores and exploits petroleum and where the Capachos I [Paramilitary] Block operates and intensifies the armed conflict in the region. The same thing has happened in the zones of the Lower- and Mid-Atrato and the Mid- and High-San Juan, where there has also been an abundant paramilitary presence accompanied by Repsol exploration and exploitation.

Some of its activities are being carried out in the ancestral territory of the U’wa people. Three deposits – Capachos, Caño Limón, and Catleya – are located very close to indigenous territory, lands divided up by the Colombian government with the intent of taking these lands from the reserves in order to permit multinational exploitation activity.

1. To the Colombian Petroleum Company – ECOPETROL – and the Colombian State:

2. To the OXY, REPSOL, ECOPETROL companies and the Colombian State, for the plundering of natural resources, the destruction of ecosystems, and the contamination of the environment, the destruction of the territory and culture of the U’wa and Guahiba indigenous communities, and the genocide against communities and social organizations in the Arauca department. This last crime is represented by specific cases: the massacres in Santo Domingo, La Cabuya, Tame (Boroughs of Flor Amarillo, Piñalito, and Cravo Charo), Cravo Norte, Caño Seco, the murder of Hugo Horacio Hurtado, and the implementation of a systematic judicial strategy against social leaders in the region.

The Occidental Petroleum Corporation is a US company founded in 1920. It was registered in the state of California and owns operations in various countries worldwide, principally in the Middle East and the Americas.

In Colombia, OXY is accused of favoring the annihilation of the Oil Workers’ Union [Unión Sindical Obrera – USO], a union in ECOPETROL; in particular, OXY is held responsibility for the murders of Manuel Gustavo Chacón, Jorge Orlando Higuita, Auri Sara Marrugo, Enrique Arellano, and Rafael Jaimes Torra.

OXY, in order to maintain its right to exploitation and friendly relations with the Colombian State, has resorted to the most extreme repressive measures in Arauca. These include the massive expulsion of campesinos using military and political pressure; the direct support of military action, promoting and defraying the war to assure its strategic interests, guaranteeing its profits and their flow to the exterior; the intervention of the US military through Plan Colombia; the creation of operational war theatres by means of special legislation (states of internal commotion, states of exception, states of emergency, and zones of rehabilitation and consolidation); the general militarization of Arauca, linking members of the civil population to military programs, institutionalizing paramilitary groups, and adapting the justice apparatus to satisfy the interests of the transnational; and removing the backbone of social movements.

3. To the British Petroleum Company and the Colombian State, for the dismemberment of social and campesino movements, the extermination of the Cunamá Boroughs Association (ASOVEC, the Communitarian Association for Agroindustrial and Social Development of Morro), Acdainso, and the Departmental Association of Campesino Users (ADUC) – through the murders of Carlos Mesías Arriguí, Daniel Torres, Roque Julio Torres Torres, Oswaldo Vargas, and Carlos Hernando Vargas Suárez.


During the course of the hearings, expert opinions and written and testimonial evidence was provided to the tribunal. Documented proof was of significant length and quality and thus exceeds the narrow margins of this ruling. Nevertheless, it is added though a separate channel, which will be used in a PTP hearing to take place in July of 2008.

The hearings heard testimonials from numerous individuals, first-hand witnesses and those who had seen their families die; thus, this summary of testimonials balances extreme emotions. Some witnesses expressed fear of the possibility of retaliation for their testimonials upon their return home.

The expert opinions gave focus to the general situation in Colombia, economically, politically, and especially in the context of the social and armed conflict and the United States’ war policy in the region.


The different aspects

It is important to mention that the oil industry follows a dynamic of capitalist accumulation, just as it follows a national security dynamic for countries highly dependent on energy.

First, because of the strategic importance of hydrocarbons, in the last decades, petroleum industry activities have produced such a huge surplus that they have consolidated the most powerful economic groups in history: the oil corporations.

Second, it is publicly known that world oil reserves are diminishing in a fast and irreversible manner; as such, these resources have become highly appreciated, and access has become a national security concern for industrialized countries, particularly for the European states and the United States, the country that consumes the most and is most dependent on fossil fuels.

Oil industry activities, in all its stages – exploration, extraction, transportation, refinement and consumption –, have catastrophic and irreversible social and environmental impacts at the local and international level. But corporate greed and the increasing energy demand have expanded the oilfield frontier, which now encroaches on areas of high biodiversity as well as indigenous peoples’ territories.

The strategies of petroleum industry multinationals have no limits. For example, they collude with the international banking system, ensuring that oil-producing countries accrue debt in order to facilitate natural resource extraction and exportation. These corporations also pressure governments to ease environmental, labor, and fiscal legislation in order to be able to act more freely and to obtain greater revenues. Also, they force the dismemberment and privatization of public (state) corporations, make deals with international organizations to cleanse their social and environmental images, form alliances with local mafias, regular armies and paramilitary forces – accused of killing, torturing, persecuting or disappearing community leaders -, in order to conduct their operations with complete security.

These and other strategies allow these corporations to act with a mask of corporate social responsibility and respect for human rights. However, public accusations and evidence continually come to light, describing their direct responsibility for environmental crimes in polluting land, rivers and seas; for the loss of forests and biodiversity; for provoking displacement and thousands of social and environmental refugees; and for destroying sources of subsistence, affecting the food sovereignty and chances of survival of the cultures and peoples who inhabit the areas where they operate.

Petroleum industry companies violate the rights of the Colombian people, their fundamental social and environmental rights. They become silent yet known killers and operate under systematic impunity, corrupting the rule of law and benefiting from the country’s armed conflict.

Petroleum multinationals’ home countries are also responsible for allowing this impunity, for promoting repression and the militarization of oil-rich zones, and for creating conditions of uneasiness, invasion, and permanent war against the local population and those who oppose the social and environmental impact of oilfield operations.

In Colombia, petroleum multinationals obtain profits of over 80%. This is only possible under the militarization of the production facilities. Even though this hearing has focused only on the companies mentioned above, all the big players in the petroleum industry operate in Colombia.


Given the aforementioned conditions and the context of the social and armed conflict faced by the Colombian people, and considering the documents and testimonials gathered, the existence of generalized and systematic violations of human rights are evident.

First of all, serious violations of the right to live and the physical integrity of several people were made clear with cases of murders, massacres (the bombing of Santo Domingo, the massacre of Caño Seco, the massacre of Tame – Piñalito, Flor Amarillo, Cravo Charro, La Cabuya, Cravo Norte), tortures, and threats. During the hearings, several witnesses testified about the crimes committed against their family members (mothers, father, siblings, children, and cousins).

Second, a constant persecution of union leaders was verified, to the extent that one can consider Colombia the riskiest country to be involved in such a activity. In the past twenty years, more than three thousand union members have been killed. The persecution of members and leaders of USO is condemnable; over the past twenty years, this organization has suffered the murder of 105 of its members and also several cases of disappearances, kidnappings, murder attempts, internal displacements and exiles.


From the gathered evidence, a systematic persecution of any form of opposition to the interests of the multinationals involved was verified; these companies secure their interests through a mechanical or operational persecution of social protest by arbitrary and legal persecutions and massive detentions, like the ones that took place in several areas of Saravena. In some cases, these procedures had given persecuted persons a “guilty” ruling. A witness detained and condemned for rebellion refers to the moment of her capture: “As a teacher, I was worried that we would end up with no students… We got together, facing the imminent retaliation announced by the government of closing schools.” “Then,” she adds, “they burst into the room where I was resting, screaming ‘where are the weapons.’”


The Tribunal also verified the violation of the right to freedom of movement as guaranteed by the Colombian Constitution and international legislation, which influences internal governance. To that end, there have been established what one witness referred to as ‘zones of exclusion,’ areas facing a virtual state of war and under the direct control of the military and private security companies working in the service of petroleum multinationals. The militarization of these zones is extremely disproportionate, as demonstrated by the following excerpt from a mother’s testimony on the murder of her son: “my son went with his friend to a lake to catch some chiguiros for a party… someone who saw them called the army from Caño Limón.” Later, the boy showed up dead. It is common for witnesses to refer to the Colombian military as the army of a transnational company.

It is clear that this situation is aggravated by the arbitrary nature of military controls over the highways and the subsequent restrictions on the movement of food, medicines, and other essential goods, keeping in mind that rural communities are very poor. According to one witness, “if we were bringing food that had a value over 150,000 pesos, they would take it from us, claiming that the food was meant for the guerrilla… We weren’t able to bring neither cement nor food, nothing of a significant value”.


Petroleum industry exploration and exploitation have meant displacement, expulsion, and near extinction for a large portion of Colombia’s indigenous communities (U’was, Sikuanes, Macaguanes, Cuibas, Guahibos, Betoyes, Bari, Cofanes, Nasa, Inga, Embera, Siona, Awá, Pastos, Camsá, Yanacona, and Camentzá) through the invasion and destruction of their ancestral lands. Equally, since this activity began in their regions, indigenous peoples have been victims of homocides, massacres, detentions, and torture, all at the hands of state and para-state agents. Both the companies and the state consider indigenous peoples an obstacle for resource extraction.

Frequently, people in these communities are accused of being terrorists, guerrilla, rebels, or subversives. This has the objective of debilitating indigenous resistance and encouraging the abandonment of their lands. Paradoxically, communities accused of such activity have cultures that are traditionally pacifist. They have lived in the countryside and worked the land for thousands of years like this.

The process of the gradual abandonment of indigenous lands has been carried out in violation of the ILO’s Convention 169 on indigenous and tribal peoples, which expressly establishes the right to consultation on the transfer of their lands and prescribes that such peoples shall not be forcibly moved from the lands they occupy. This has also been recognized by the Constitutional Court in its recent ruling T-880 in relation to the Barí people; this ruling extends to all indigenous peoples.


Petroleum exploration and exploitation activities carried out by transnational companies and the Colombian government have required a significant amount of infrastructure, including communication routes, buildings, crude transport systems, oil wells, water treatment facilities, stabilization lakes, military camps, airports, and heliports. These projects have destroyed vast expanses of forests and affected swamps and wetlands, estuaries and rivers that feed the Orinoco; this has meant grave alterations to the natural cycles of the ecosystem.

The contamination of various bodies of water, perforation of oil wells, felling of trees, generation of heavy metallic and gas waste, alteration of water temperature, emission of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, oxidization of nitrogen and sulfur, uncontrolled burning of petroleum waste, and spilling of oil waste in pools near oil wells that contaminate the water table all represent the harmful effects faced by the regions’ vegetation, animal and human populations.

The defense of the environment has also implied repression from state actors, who have murdered people simply carrying out their posts, such as in the case of CARLOS HERNANDO VARGAS SUAREZ, the manager of CORPORINOQUÍA.


The right to justice comes from the obligation to guarantee rights. This translates into a provision of duty and imposes on the government the obligation to organize the entire state apparatus to ensure that all liberties and rights consecrated in international human rights agreements are respected and realized. This obligation implies the responsibility of the state to investigate, judge, and sanction those responsible for the violations of human rights recognized in those treaties.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has defined impunity as follows: “the combined lack of investigation, prosecution, capture, judgment, and condemnation of those responsible for the violation of rights protected by the American Convention.” The body has also signaled that “the state has the obligation to combat such a situation through all available legal means in order to ensure that impunity is not chronically repeated through the continuous violation of human rights and the failure to defend the victims and their families.”

In this respect, the Colombian government has not complied with its responsibilities. The scarce independent judicial investigations have neither completed nor passed their preliminary phases because, in general, every investigation faces administrative obstacles. An emblematic example is the fact that the Special Prosecutor’s Unit has its head offices within the installations of the 18th Brigade and has affirmed its participation in military operations. In the same way, it has become clear that arbitrary displacement through judicial means have been dealt with in distinctly ad-hoc trials, pre-established specifically for certain situations.

In this context, it is opportune to make reference to the phenomenon of paramilitarism in Colombia and its relationship with the political realm. According to one expert, “they dress as Senators in the morning, sell cocaine in the afternoon, and give orders to paramilitaries in the evening.”

It is clear that paramilitarism is responding to the development of a state strategy that goes beyond a counterinsurgency policy to a purely military response. Such a strategy has a profound political, economic, and social impact. Paramilitarism has been made available for the rich, the multinationals, the violent plunderers of property, and narco-traffickers. It responds to a model set forth by the state as well as distinct sectors of society. Thus, paramilitarism has garnered significantly unrestricted economic and political power. Fundamentally, paramilitary actions against the civil population have been granted impunity over the civil population; most frequently, their victims are small communities, women, children, youth, and people who have been critical or opposed to state policies that threaten their rights. With nowhere else to turn, many victims have come to the commission with their stories of massacres, ethnocides, genocides, assassinations, murders, forced displacements, tortures, and disappearances: in sum, an interminable line of crimes against humanity.

That enormous quantity of crimes, however, has been sheltered by an impunity encouraged by a policy directed at protecting the victimizers, disregarding the rights of society, and denying the victims their rights to know the truth, obtain justice, and receive full reparations. The government has not put forth concrete and effective actions to overcome impunity, that which has been recommended time and time again by international institutions.


Given the preceding, the Tribunal agrees to ACCUSE:

1. To the transnational petroleum companies BP, OXI, Repsol, and the company ECOPETROL:

* For the development of oilfield exploration and exploitation policies that signify the forced displacement of the populations that reside in those areas.

* For the development of exploration and exploitation policies that lack any environmental impact evaluation whatsoever and that imply the destruction of forests and other natural spaces as well as the grave and increasing contamination of water sources, such as the Arauca river, and the forced restriction on the ways of life for the affected populations.

* For the creation of authentic zones of exclusion, denying citizens access to massive areas that happen to be under exploitation, areas under a state of war and disproportionate militarization. This has been accomplished with the support of the armed forces, private security contractors, and paramilitary groups.

* For tolerance. These companies tolerate the activities of armed groups as long as they serve their interests. This has meant the persecution of those collectives and individuals that show even the slightest hint of opposition to oil industry activity and the conditions that it produces. This persecution is carried out through false accusations, threats, kidnappings, physical aggression, torture, and murder, as has been widely documented by the Tribunal.

* In particular for the systematic and generalized persecution of unionists, such as in the case of the leaders and members of the Oil Workers’ Union (USO), in violation of internationally and constitutionally recognized labor rights.

2. To the Colombian government:

The Colombian State did not fulfill its legal obligations, neither by action nor omission, at least in these most important aspects:

* It did not give needed protection to the political militants, social organizers and trade unionists, who were victims of treats due to their pacific community work, effectively ignoring human rights and respect for human dignity.

* It did not do the necessary investigations nor impose the needed punishment for murders and other types of violence committed against people and human rights organizations, even though many of the perpetrators were easily identifiable and members of the Colombian army.

* In the use of public forces for the repression of groups accused of rebellion, it did not make the necessary distinction between armed groups and members of the civil population.

* In the failure of the obligations assumed in concordance with ILO Treaty No. 169, which relates to the rights of indigenous peoples, by imposing the exploitation of the natural resources within the indigenous communities’ lands without their approval.

* In the failure of its obligations to prosecute crimes against humanity, particularly with regards to violations of the right to effective guardianship and the internationally recognized rights enjoyed by the victims of these crimes mainly due to the absence of a truly independent judicial system.

3. To the governments of the states whose nationals have significant participation in providing capital for the aforementioned companies:

* For permitting that these entities have the ability to disregard international standards with respect to human rights and environmental protection in other countries, like Colombia.

4. And, in particular, to the United States Government:

* For defending a presumed right to intervene in any country’s internal affairs in the name of securing the national interest, which includes controlling access to petroleum resources and having decisively contributed, through providing plans, training, and financing, to the extreme militarization of Colombia’s oil-producing regions. It is being carried out in Colombia as is has in the past and present in other parts of the world, with atrocious consequences for the civil population.

5. The Tribunal considers that there are reasonable grounds to describe a great majority of concrete acts of murder, massacre, torture, forced displacement, and persecution as crimes against humanity, given that they have been committed in a systematic and generalized manner against a civil population. In this context, the Tribunal would like to recognize the fact that each person, whether or not he or she is protected by the state, is also individually responsible in the legal arena for those crimes against humanity that he or she may have perpetrated, be it as author or accomplice, without exception. That responsibility makes the person answerable not only to the Colombian courts but also to international courts established as of November 2, 2002, such as the International Criminal Court.


Given the aforementioned reasons, and invoking the Argel document on Civil Rights, considering the totality of the accusations against each and every one of the companies and the responsibility of the Colombian government, and with the conviction that the violations of rights constitutes an attack against the common conscience of humanity and concerns all peoples, the Tribunal resolves:

1. To elevate the accusations and evidence produced for the final deliberation of the Permanent Tribunal of Peoples, Colombia Session.

2. To distribute this declaration to the unions, indigenous peoples, and urban and rural communities who have suffered the impacts of the destructive actions of these multinationals as well as to organizations that work in solidarity with them, academic and student organizations, the Public Prosecutor of Colombia, the high courts and other control agencies of Colombia, alternative media networks, mass media, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, the UN’s Special Envoy for Human Rights, the International Criminal Court, and the accused companies’ head offices and governments of their home states.

3. To express solidarity and recognition of the pain of the victims.

4. To actively support the struggle for truth, justice, full reparations, the re-establishment of breached rights, and the guarantee that these crimes will not again be repeated.


With the conclusion of this hearing, the delegates present at the Permanent Tribunal of Peoples, as well as the judges, express their admiration for the profundity and courage of the cultural resistance work and the defense of their dignity and right to a life with justice that we were able to see in the representatives and witnesses who presented at this hearing, men and women who have suffered so much and who continue to follow a constructive path toward a future of peace and self-determination. They deserve not only our solidarity but also our equally important commitment to a just society. The recommendations that follow seek to be a reflection of that commitment and one more way to accompany the communities we have come to know and remain with us in our memories and actions:

1. The jury makes a call out to intellectuals and members of social organizations in Latin America and beyond to devise proposals for norms of controlling multinational corporations and for creating a system by which their economic and environmental crimes may be condemned and companies pressured to act in accordance with the standards of the United Nations with the end of safeguarding the rights of peoples.

2. We also call upon the shareholders of the multinational petroleum companies in their countries of origin that they become informed about the behavior of their affiliates and submit them to ethical control.

3. The jury also calls out to the international community so that it be critical of the official information it is given about Colombia, that it keep in mind that, in a country in which so many atrocities occur, an official source cannot be considered reliable while these crimes are permitted to be hidden.

4. Similarly, we call out to organizations and social movements in Latin America who share the same problems and suffer similar aggressions from multinational companies that we find spaces to denounce these crimes and find solutions.

5. We demand that the International Criminal Court stop delaying its decision on receiving the Colombian case, where many diverse hearings of this session of the Permanent Tribunal of Peoples have proven the existence of crimes against humanity.

6. The Tribunal considers it necessary and opportune to encourage Colombia’s lawyers, prosecutors, judges, and magistrates to take an active role in the quest for real justice, which is necessary for peace. In this sense, it is considered important to highlight that, beyond the recognition of an independent judicial power as indispensable for the protection of human rights, the humanistic conception of law is universalized. In modern jurisprudence, there is now no place for overcoming judicial positivism, which, conceiving law as inherently formalist, permitted the degradation of judicial institutions and the perverse use of the law as a shield for unethical procedures, making the use of law for the benefit of immoral privileges, giving the appearance of legitimacy to aggressions against life, and making the dignity of human beings more fragile and unprotected.

7. Finally, we express our profound worry for the unprotected situation in which those who fight for human rights in Colombia find themselves. In particular, we worry for those who have participated as witnesses in this and other PTP hearings. The jury considers anything that could come to affect the witnesses of these hearings the responsibility of the Colombian government.



Given in Bogotá, Colombia, 4 August of 2007.

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