The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights received yesterday (Thursday,December 6, 2018) in a public hearing the relatives of Javier Ortega, Paúl Rivas and Efraín Segarra, murdered by FARC dissidents on the border between Ecuador and Colombia.
In this meeting, which began at 3:52 pm, the relatives and their lawyer spokefirst to the representatives of the Ecuadorian State and then to the delegates of Colombia. The lawyer of the relatives, Juan Pablo Albán, said that this criminal act was not prevented, despite the violence that existed in the border area. “The exploration of several lines of investigation is still pending,particularly those that have to do with the possible responsibility of agent sof the State.”
Then Ricardo Rivas, Paul’s brother, mentioned the chats that ‘Guacho’ exchanged with a police major. In those messages, the FARC dissident threatened to kidnap and kill civilians if they did not release three of his men detained in Mataje. Rivas also asked to explain who took the decisions in the Crisis Committee, formed after the triple plagiarism. “Many of the officials who were in the Committee today are enjoying the privileges of diplomacy and military promotions, as if a mismanaged kidnapping and a murder occurred in their functions was a reason to reward them.”
Rivas said that nine months later, the answer to clarify what happened to the press team does not come, “despite the public offer of President Lenin Moreno.” Ecuador’s response After listening to the family members, the response came from Attorney General Íñigo Salvador, representing Ecuador.
He spoke 12 minutes and explained what was done by the State, “to respond to the level of risk.” He cited the creation and dissemination of protocols for journalistic coverage in border and risk areas, the publication of newsletters, the issuance of accreditations to journalists, the creation of a Single Command for coordination between Police and Armed Forces, the declaration of the state of exception.
In addition, he assured that there has been an opening to access all documents,”despite the fact that they are under reservation” in the Office of the Prosecutor. In the midst of his intervention he mentioned twice that”the kidnapping, captivity and murder of our compatriots took place in Colombian territory.”
The relatives reacted and asked to try that. In fact, at dawn on March 27, the government issued a statement stating that the kidnapping occurred in Mataje.In the morning, the then Minister César Navas confirmed this information.
Prosecutor Salvador alerted the IACHR and said that he expects the final report of this case to be “duly supported” in the documentation collected by the ESE, which investigates the triple crime.”
Regarding the visit to Mataje, Ecuador reiterates that it is willing to provide facilities for its realization, provided that the Colombian State guarantees that it will develop without risks of security coming from its territory; all this without exceeding the original ESE schedule. “
He also asked to refrain from making an expert report on border security, which”was not” within the planning. Almost at the end, the Procuratorasked the IACHR to conclude the ESE program before December 31 or no later than the first two weeks of January 2019. And he requested that with the delivery of the final report the precautionary measure be lifted and filed issued against Ecuador and Colombia.
The relatives responded that it should not be filed, that there are still issues to investigate, such as the possible responsibility of those who managed the kidnapping of Javier, Paul and Efraín. Édison Lanza, part of the ESE, responded to the Attorney General and said that there are imprecise assessments.”The expertise that we talked about was raised from the start and has nothing to do with security at the border, but with the protection of journalists in a risk zone; the Ecuadorian State knew that there was a serious risk at the time to exercise journalism. It’s not a question they found out yesterday.”
He also said that “the truth will arise not from what an authority holds, but from the exhaustion of the lines of investigation, from which it is verified and discarded that, for example, kidnapping did not occur in territory under Ecuadorian control, which the investigations of Colombia deny it to him “.
He also indicated that “it is not true” that the ESE had unrestricted access to the documentation. “We requested copies of the documents on repeated occasions and we were told that there is an interpretation that the prosecutor makes, that it cannot be delivered even within the framework of this mechanism.”
The meeting with Colombia
After the meeting with delegates from Ecuador, representatives of Colombia arrived.The relatives said that with the current government there is not the same openness that was with the expression. On Tuesday, in his visit to Ecuador,President Iván Duque said that the triple crime will not remain unpunished.
Claudia Carrasquilla, of the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office, detailed the testimony that a detainee turned over to the justice system. According to that version, the press team was kidnapped by two members of the Óliver Sinisterra Front, who consulted alias ‘Guacho’ what to do with the three. “He gives them the order to move to Colombian territory, passing through El Playón.”According to the researcher, the execution was later ordered “because of a situation that had been presented with the Ecuadorian government.” (I)