ACTA DE LA SESIÓN EXTRAORDINARIA
DEL CONSEJO PERMANENTE DE LA ORGANIZACIÓN
CELEBRADA EL 14 DE SEPTIEMBRE DE 2007
Esta transcripción corregida se somete a la aprobación del Consejo Permanente. Una vez aprobada, constituirá la versión final del acta.
Página Nómina de los Representantes que asistieron a la sesión 1
Aprobación del orden del día 2
Palabras del Secretario General 2
Informe verbal del doctor James Young sobre las
conclusiones de la Comisión Forense Internacional para
esclarecer las circunstancias en torno a la muerte de los
diputados colombianos del Valle del Cauca en junio de 2007 4
Aplazamiento del trigésimo tercer período extraordinario de sesiones de
la Asamblea General 16
CONSEJO PERMANENTE DE LA ORGANIZACIÓN DE LOS ESTADOS AMERICANOS
ACTA DE LA SESIÓN EXTRAORDINARIA
CELEBRADA EL 14 DE SEPTIEMBRE DE 2007
En la ciudad de Washington, a las tres y cincuenta de la tarde del viernes 14 de septiembre de 2007, celebró sesión extraordinaria el Consejo Permanente de la Organización de los Estados Americanos. Presidió la sesión la Embajadora Deborah-Mae Lovell, Representante Permanente de Antigua y Barbuda y Presidenta del Consejo Permanente. Asistieron los siguientes miembros:
Embajador Ántero Flores-Aráoz, Representante Permanente del Perú y
Vicepresidente del Consejo Permanente
Embajador Denis G. Antoine, Representante Permanente de Grenada
Embajador Michael I. King, Representante Permanente de Barbados
Embajador Rodolfo Hugo Gil, Representante Permanente de la Argentina
Embajadora Marina Valère, Representante Permanente de Trinidad y Tobago
Embajador Francisco Villagrán de León, Representante Permanente de Guatemala
Embajadora Abigaíl Castro de Pérez, Representante Permanente de El Salvador
Embajador Aristides Royo, Representante Permanente de Panamá
Embajador Duly Brutus, Representante Permanente de Haití
Embajador Manuel María Cáceres Cardozo, Representante Permanente del Paraguay
Embajador Javier Sancho Bonilla, Representante Permanente de Costa Rica
Primera Secretaria Deborah Yaw, Representante Alterna de Guyana
Ministra Consejera Ann-Marie Layne Campbell, Representante Alterna de Antigua y Barbuda
Consejero Frank Montgomery Clarke, Representante Alterno de San Vicente y las Granadinas
Embajador Nelson Pineda Prada, Representante Alterno de Venezuela
Primer Secretario Eugene F. Torchon-Newry, Representante Alterno del Commonwealth de
Primer Secretario Jorge Fuentes, Representante Alterno de Honduras
También estuvieron presentes el Secretario General de la Organización, doctor José Miguel Insulza, y el Secretario General Adjunto, Embajador Albert R. Ramdin, Secretario del Consejo Permanente.
APROBACIÓN DEL ORDEN DEL DÍA
La PRESIDENTA: I am pleased to call to order this special meeting of the Permanent Council, which has been convened to consider the items in the order of business, document CP/OD.1606/07.
[El orden del día contiene los siguientes puntos:
Aprobación del orden del día (CP/OD.1606/07)
Palabras del Secretario General, excelentísimo señor José Miguel Insulza
Informe verbal del doctor James Young sobre las conclusiones de la Comisión Forense Internacional para esclarecer las circunstancias en torno a la muerte de los diputados colombianos del Valle del Cauca en junio de 2007.]
If there are no objections, the order of business is approved. Approved.
PALABRAS DEL SECRETARIO GENERAL
La PRESIDENTA: This meeting was called to consider the verbal report by Dr. James Young on the findings of the International Forensic Commission established to review the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the Colombian deputies of Valle del Cauca in June 2007.
Permanent representatives would recall that on June 29, 2007, the Permanent Council approved declaration CP/DEC. 37 (1601/07), “Declaration on the Assassination of the Colombian Deputies Kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).” The declaration condemned the killings of the legislators, urged the release of all kidnapped persons, and recognized the readiness of the Government of Colombia to establish an international fact-finding mission.
To collaborate on the prompt return of the 11 bodies of the Colombian legislators to their relatives, the Organization of American States signed an agreement with the Colombian Government on August 31, 2007, for the establishment and functioning of an international forensic commission. The Commission, under the coordination of the General Secretariat, is composed of Dr. James Young of Canada, Dr. Luis Fondebrider of Argentina, Dr. Hans Petter Hougen of Denmark, and Dr. Maria Cristina de Mendonça of Portugal. Dr. Young coordinated the work of the Commission, which carried out its investigation of the tragic events that took place in Valle del Cauca with absolute autonomy and independence.
On behalf of the Council, I welcome Dr. Young, and I look forward to his report. First, however, let me give the floor to His Excellency, Secretary General José Miguel Insulza.
El SECRETARIO GENERAL: Gracias, Presidenta. Agradezco también, muy sentidamente, al doctor James Young por su disposición a informarnos hoy mismo en el Consejo sobre las conclusiones de la Comisión y a las señoras y señores Embajadores y Representantes por su disposición a reunirse de manera urgente para conocerlo.
Este informe, como ha recordado la Presidenta del Consejo Permanente, tiene su origen en la dramática noticia recibida a fines del mes de junio acerca del asesinato en Colombia de los once diputados del Valle del Cauca que estaban en poder de las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC). Las dramáticas versiones entregadas en ese momento llevaron al Gobierno colombiano a solicitar la constitución de una Comisión Forense que fuera constituida por la OEA, situación que, por lo demás, fue reconocida, como lo ha recordado también la Presidenta, por el Consejo Permanente en su declaración del 29 de junio.
La Secretaría General, para constituir esta Comisión Forense, solicitó la cooperación de la Organización Panamericana de la Salud (OPS), a quien se le solicitó que designara un experto forense para que coordinara la Comisión. Quiero reconocer la excelente disposición y además la celeridad con que la doctora Mirta Roses, Directora de la OPS, acogió esta solicitud y propuso para ello al doctor James Young, de nacionalidad canadiense, quien es Consejero Especial del Viceministro para Seguridad Pública de Canadá, profesor asociado del Departamento de Medicina y de Laboratorio y Patobiología de la Universidad de Toronto, y profesor asociado en Ciencias Forenses de la Universidad de Toronto, en Mississauga.
Al mismo tiempo, teniendo en cuenta las expectativas y sensibilidad de los actores involucrados, la Secretaría General solicitó a los gobiernos de los denominados países amigos –España, Francia y Suiza–, que nos propusieran otros expertos forenses internacionales para que integraran la Comisión, los cuales fueron finalmente designados.
La Comisión estuvo integrada por tres distinguidos forenses de renombre internacional: el doctor Luis Fondebrider, de la Argentina; el doctor Hans Petter Hougen, de Dinamarca; y la doctora María Cristina de Mendonça, de Portugal. Quiero decir que todos ellos, como digo, tienen una experiencia vasta en esta materia. El doctor Young, por ejemplo, ha incluido en su actividad la identificación de las víctimas del tsunami que azotó el continente asiático en el 2004 y la identificación de víctimas canadienses del atentado terrorista contra el World Trade Center del 11 de septiembre del 2001.
Hoy por la mañana, el doctor Young me ha hecho entrega del informe con los resultados del trabajo de la Comisión Forense Internacional. He remitido, de inmediato, copia de este informe al Gobierno de Colombia y también he dado instrucciones de que una copia de este informe sea entregado a los familiares de las víctimas de los once diputados, víctimas de estos lamentables hechos, para que conozcan plenamente el trabajo de la Comisión.
Quiero decir que las tareas de la Comisión se han desarrollado en un ámbito estrictamente técnico y con absoluta independencia. Agradecemos, en este sentido, el apoyo del Gobierno de Colombia, de la Fiscalía General de la Nación, del Instituto de Medicina Legal de ese país, y el esfuerzo mancomunado de una serie de actores a quienes quiero agradecer, entre ellos, como ya dije, a la doctora Mirta Roses.
Quiero también destacar el muy significativo trabajo de la Comisión Humanitaria del Comité Internacional de la Cruz Roja que, junto con el doctor Álvaro Leyva, ex Senador de Colombia, fueron fundamentales en la recuperación de los cuerpos de los diputados.
Nuestro sincero agradecimiento a los Gobiernos de Canadá, España, Noruega y Suiza, que manifestaron su voluntad de apoyar financieramente el funcionamiento de la Comisión. Quiero agregar, también, un agradecimiento muy significativo al Embajador Víctor Rico, al Embajador Raúl Alconada, y a la funcionaria señora Katherine McAleer, quien estuvo permanentemente acompañando a la Comisión Forense Internacional en todas sus actividades. Ellos tres representaron a la OEA de manera muy adecuada en esta delicada misión.
Por cierto, esta es una ocasión que no es de satisfacción. Se ha cumplido una misión. Los esfuerzos conjuntos han permitido la recuperación de los cuerpos, y la investigación forense de su estado y las razones por las cuales fallecieron.
Es importante señalar que se trata de una Comisión Forense y, por lo tanto, no ha conocido el lugar donde ocurrieron estos hechos ni ha tenido oportunidad de entrevistar a los protagonistas de esta masacre. Por consiguiente, sus resultados se circunscribirían a los que una comisión de médicos forenses pueda hacer. Sin embargo, creo que es muy importante que las señoras y señores Representantes conozcan este informe y la labor del Presidente de la Comisión, a quien quiero agradecer.
Repito, este es un día de tristeza para nosotros. Hemos encontrado los cadáveres de once desaparecidos, de las muchas muertes que han ocurrido en nuestra región en los últimos años y las que han acaecido en la hermana República de Colombia. Tenemos una sensación de tristeza y de dolor por ellos y esperamos que de las conclusiones que de esto se saquen, la primera sea la necesidad de que muy pronto se ponga término a la situación de secuestro de una cantidad importante aún de personas en Colombia que, como demuestran los hechos ocurridos, están corriendo peligro de sus vidas cada día que permanecen en cautiverio.
Sin más, Presidenta, quiero solicitarle que demos la palabra al doctor James Young. Gracias.
La PRESIDENTA: Thank you very much, Secretary General, for your remarks and for giving us background information on Dr. James Young.
Before I give the floor to Dr. Young, I wish to recognize the presence of the new Permanent Representative of Mexico, Dr. Gustavo Albin, who presented his credentials yesterday. At the next meeting of the Permanent Council, Dr. Albin will make his statement. Welcome, sir, on behalf of the Permanent Council.
INFORME VERBAL DEL DOCTOR JAMES YOUNG SOBRE LAS
CONCLUSIONES DE LA COMISIÓN FORENSE INTERNACIONAL PARA
ESCLARECER LAS CIRCUNSTANCIAS EN TORNO A LA
MUERTE DE LOS DIPUTADOS COLOMBIANOS DEL VALLE DEL CAUCA EN
JUNIO DE 2007
La PRESIDENTA: It is now my pleasure to give the floor to Dr. James Young.
El COORDINADOR DE LA COMISIÓN FORENSE INTERNACIONAL: Thank you very much, Madam Chair and Mr. Secretary General.
It is a great honor to be asked, on behalf of the International Forensic Commission, to present this report this afternoon. I thank everyone here for taking time on a Friday afternoon to come and learn about our last busy two weeks of work.
The Secretary General outlined some of the background of the Commission members. I should say, for the benefit of everyone, that most of us have worked together on various projects in the past, such as the tsunami and 9/11. All of us knew each other, one way or another. The forensic world, much like the diplomatic world, is relatively small, with a very small group of people who do this international work. That was an enormous advantage because when we met, I did the groundwork for the first few days, and as the other members arrived we were immediately up to speed. I had a pretty good idea of how they thought and could make decisions on their behalf that, in fact, we were able to sustain during the operation.
As well, I want to mention that we recognized at the start of the Commission that we probably would need some expertise in forensic dentistry, or, as it is known, forensic odontology. I enlisted the assistance of Dr. David Sweet of Canada, who is a world-renowned forensic odontologist, and it turned out that we were quite correct in our assumption. Dr. Sweet served as a consultant to the Commission. He did not actually sign the report, but I should acknowledge his work and recognize that he did a great deal for us.
The Commission’s work was made more focused and much easier by the tremendous administrative support that we received from the Organization of American States, and we very much appreciated that support. It doesn’t always happen in the field, and it means that we can get the job done and can concentrate on what we are there to do.
We also readily acknowledge and admire the work that was done by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the recovery of the remains. It was a daunting task to find a specific, small location in the jungle, come to the right place, exhume 11 bodies in extreme conditions, and do such an extraordinary job of preserving those bodies for us so that we could gain maximum information. We appreciated that hard work, and we personally had a chance to pass on those thanks to the ICRC.
It is very important, up front, to mention the very high degree of cooperation we received from all of the Colombian forensic professionals. The Commission was very impressed with their knowledge and their professionalism. They understood our role as independent observers and our need to reach our own conclusions. Both teams made the needs of the family for timely and accurate information a priority, and we very much appreciated that.
We hope, in fact, as a result of this work that we have done together, that as an additional resource to the Colombian forensic community, we can continue to build international relations and give advice and education in the future. I must say that we learned from them just as they learned from us, so it was a good professional relationship.
We recognized that our role was complex and needed to be managed very carefully, and that was what we did at the beginning before the bodies were given to us. We spent many hours discussing with the Colombian authorities how we would manage this project and do it in the best manner possible.
We recognized that legally, the country where the deaths occur must play a role, and what we do must be in keeping with their needs and their judicial system. Whether it is 9/11, the tsunami, or a mission such as this, we have to respect the principles and law in the country where we are operating, but we can bring much to it. We can bring technical assistance, we can bring advice, we can observe in a case like this and study, and we can work on autopsies together. But much of the physical identification and the autopsy work was done by the well-practiced teams of Colombians, with us assisting with advice and watching and observing. That preserves the investigation, should it ever reach the courts.
The first and very important role that we played was in identifying the bodies. Everyone was concerned whether we could, in fact, identify the bodies. We had a high degree of optimism going into the project that we would be able to identify them, particularly because we have the ability now to identify using modern DNA techniques. The advantage of DNA is its accuracy; the disadvantage is the amount of time that it takes. In situations where bodies are decomposing or have decomposed, DNA work becomes much more difficult. After the tsunami, for example, we had limited success with DNA because the DNA deteriorated before the samples could be obtained by the countries that were working there. We took that into account. We lined up labs throughout the world to do the work, and we worked with the Colombian DNA lab, with which, I must say, we were most impressed.
When the bodies were turned over by the Red Cross on Sunday night, we got what, to us, was a pleasant piece of news: the bodies were in a much better condition than we had thought. In retrospect, we realized that they were probably buried farther than we thought, as that cuts off the oxygen supply to the bodies when they are decomposing. In addition, it was a somewhat cooler climate than we had thought. As a result, there was a higher degree of preservation than we had hoped for, and that offered us the chance to potentially identify the bodies much sooner. We were able to take advantage of that reality.
We used every available means that we could. We were very anxious to use dental means, and we were able to get dental records from each of the families and to compare them to the remains that we received.
We were able to obtain in each and every case a set of fingerprints from the bodies, and we were fortunate that there were fingerprints of the deceased on record. We had medical information, in many instances, that was quite unique to particular individuals and that would further confirm, along with age and stature, whether or not these were the people in question.
We started, as you always do forensically, from the point of view of proving that these were the people that they were said to be. We did not assume that we had been given the right bodies of the right people. We assumed that we had to prove that, as well as to prove who each individual was.
Both teams went about their business. Together we discussed things, but at the end we went our separate ways and we discussed our conclusions independently. We then came together and compared our conclusions, case by case by case, and we arrived at exactly the same conclusions. We all agreed on the fingerprint identifications, we agreed on age and stature, and we agreed on dental identification in each and every case.
Having achieved that degree of unanimity, and having completed the autopsies, we then met with the families on Tuesday night and told them that we had successfully identified the bodies and that the bodies would be released over the next 24 hours. In fact, nine of the 11 bodies were released on Tuesday night and two more on Wednesday.
The national funeral took place on Wednesday morning. The families were hugely relieved and very, very grateful to the team and to the OAS, but we were very careful, as well, to point out to the families the tremendous work that had been done by the Colombian Government and the Colombian forensic staff.
That was the positive and satisfying part of the job, and it was the part of the job that, on a humanitarian basis, we all felt was extremely important to get done.
Let me turn my remarks to the investigation. Going into the investigative aspect, we understood, as a forensic team and as a team of individuals who have been doing this work for a long time, that there would be serious limitations on what information we could obtain and what conclusions could be drawn from that information. We do know more now than we knew going into the investigation. We have the answers to some questions, but we don’t have the answers to many others. On the television show “CSI,” it all works out in an hour, but in real life, we really are limited by the quality of the types of information that we are given. We can draw ever-increasing conclusions from that information, but in this case, as my remarks in a few moments will indicate, we really had very limited information.
Within our report we included a statement that I would like to read. I think it is a very important part of the report.
The forensic professionals involved in the Commission are all very established in their fields of expertise. All understand that being an expert involves giving unbiased opinions based on the best scientific information available. These opinions may support one view of events over another or may agree with parts of different versions of events. Experts have no stake in the final conclusions, other than to ensure it is based on the best available science. Experts are not hired to prove a particular point of view.
This is an important mandate and part of what we do, and it certainly plays a major role in our conclusions.
I would like to read to you our conclusions. At various times I may expand upon them slightly in order to explain them.
The Commission is unanimous in reaching its conclusions.
The identity of all the deceased was established by using a number of recognized methods. The results obtained meet international standards, and the outstanding DNA testing is only confirmatory in nature.
By that the Commission means that we did not feel that DNA testing was necessary in order to release the bodies. The Colombian Government felt that it would like to do it for the sake of completeness. We have absolutely no difficulty with that, and we retain separate specimens in the event that there was ever an argument about it, but we fully expect that the result of this DNA testing, which could take a week to several weeks, will confirm exactly the decisions that we already made. We felt that it would be wrong to hold up the release of the bodies while waiting for a test that we did not feel was absolutely necessary.
Continuing with the conclusions:
All of the deaths were as a result of multiple gunshot wounds. In most cases, they are from different directions. In nine of the cases the fatal wounds are in the chest and/or abdomen, and in two cases the fatal wounds are in the head. There were two cases of bullet injuries (an elbow/chest and buttock) that showed stippling, which indicates close range. From preliminary examination it appears that, in some cases, different types of bullets and bullet fragments were found.
Therefore, the cause of death in each case is multiple gunshot wounds, and the manner of death is homicide. The meaning of homicide in this instance is the death of one human caused by the actions of another human. We are not making comment on who that person or persons are or on their legal culpability. Characteristics of the wounds exclude either accidental or suicidal death.