On October 20, 2023, the IACtHR found that Colombia was responsible for the enforced disappearance of Edisson Guzmán Medina, who has been missing since 2002. That year, the Colombian government launched a “social recovery plan” in the city of Medellín, which included several military operations in the Comuna 13 neighborhood, amongst them, “Operation Orion”. This operation was carried out by the National Army and the Bloc Cacique Nutibara (BCN) –a Colombian paramilitary group– between October 16 and 22, 2002, in which forced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, attacks on life and integrity occurred. After that operation, the BCN became the hegemonic paramilitary group in Comuna 13 and continued with expulsions, displacements and forced disappearances. In that context, Mr. Medina was disappeared on November 30, 2002, when two men arrived at his workplace and took him with them to ask him some questions. Although various proceedings were opened to investigate his disappearance, the victim’s case remains open to this day and his whereabouts is still unknown.

Despite the fact that Colombia acknowledged its responsibility, the IACtHR considered it necessary to issue a judgment to determine the facts and examine the gross human rights violations against the victim and his family, considering that it was a case of forced disappearance. In this regard, the IACtHR concluded that there was a proven relationship between the State agents and the paramilitary group. It also determined that many failures have occurred in the course of the investigation, such as lack of due diligence and noncompliance with the reasonable time, which constitute a violation of Articles 8 (right to a fair trial) and 25 (right to judicial protection) of the IACHR, and Article I.b (obligation to punish those who commit the crime of forced disappearance) of the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons. The latter obligation was also violated because of the lack of access to the truth by the victim’s relatives. The IACtHR also declared the violation of Article 5 (right to personal integrity) of the IACHR to the detriment of the victim’s relatives, given the impacts they suffered as a result of Mr. Medina’s disappearance, as well as because of the gender-differentiated effects suffered by the victim’s wife. Finally, Article 17 (rights of the family) of the IACHR was considered violated, since there was a total disintegration of the family nucleus. The decision (in Spanish) can be found here and the press release here.