The Rochela Massacre / Colombia

In the community of La Rochela, in January 1989, a paramilitary group kidnapped a 15-person commission of judicial officials who were investigating the civic and military responsibilities involved in various massacres committed in the Magdalena Medio zone. The paramilitaries shot at the group, killing 12 and injuring the other three.

A massacre of judges and investigators revealed the collaboration between armed forces and paramilitary groups.CEJIL and the Collective of Attorneys José Alvear Restrepo brought the case before the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (CIDH) and later represented the victims and their families before the Inter-American Human Rights Court.

In May 2007, the Inter-American Court made its decision on the case, in which it considered Colombia responsible for the violation of the human rights to life, personal integrity, liberty, and the judicial guarantees of the 15 victims and their families. It also ordered the Colombian government to investigate the massacre in a diligent manner, including the possibility that high government officials knew, or should have known, about the paramilitaries’ actions. The court established that, between 1979 and 1991, there was an average of approximately 25 judges and lawyers that were assassinated or suffered assassination attempts annually.

The court analyzed the legal setting regarding the demobilization of illegal armed groups, leaving it clear that the lax processes that generate an inappropriate decrease in the penalties makes the government responsible.

The plaintiffs are currently continuing to work towards the completion of the whole sentence that was dictated by the Inter-American Court.