Practice Relating to Rule 55. Access for Humanitarian Relief to Civilians in Need
Section A. Access for humanitarian relief
Colombia’s Basic Military Manual (1995) states the duty to allow relief organizations, such as the Red Cross, to perform humanitarian activities in favour of non-combatants and civilians.
Colombia’s Decree No. 138 (2005) states:
All authorities and persons in Colombia must protect … relief personnel and the persons who permanently or temporarily carry out humanitarian tasks in situations of armed conflict or natural disasters, facilitating their free transit and the transport of drugs, food and drink and humanitarian aid, evacuating the dead, wounded and sick, cooperating with them as necessary for the fulfilment of their tasks.
In 2004, in the Constitutional Case No. T-025/04, the Third Appeals Chamber of Colombia’s Constitutional Court declared that the State had violated the Constitution owing to its failure to guarantee the rights of displaced persons. The Court stated:
[B]ased on the international obligations assumed by Colombia in the fields of human rights and international humanitarian law, as well as in the compilation of criteria for the interpretation and application of means to attend to the displaced populations contained in the [UN] Guiding Principles [on Internal Displacement], the Chamber considers that the following minimum rights … constitute a minimum of services that shall be provided by the State:
4. The right to a minimum subsistence as an expression of the fundamental right to the minimum conditions for life … This right must also be read in light of the provisions of Principles 24–27 … according to which it is through humanitarian assistance that authorities satisfy their minimum duty to provide a dignified subsistence to displaced persons. This humanitarian assistance refers both to emergency humanitarian aid, delivered when the displacement takes place, and to the components of minimum assistance during the stages of economic recovery and return.
The Report on the Practice of Colombia refers to a draft internal working paper in which the Colombian Government stated: “The accomplishment of the functions of humanitarian organizations shall be facilitated.”
In 2008, in its Comprehensive Human Rights and IHL Policy, the Ministry of National Defence of Colombia stated:
130. The policy of the Ministry of Defence on displaced persons is set out in Directive No. 9 of 2005, produced in response to Judgment T-025 of 2004 of the Constitutional Court. The Directive establishes preventive and protective measures and procedures for responding to the urgent humanitarian needs of these persons and providing them with socioeconomic stability. These measures include:
- Issuing instructions for the safe passage of humanitarian aid to displaced persons.
131. As a further measure, Directive No. 16 was issued on 30 October 2006, containing instructions for preventing the displacement of indigenous peoples and for taking preventive measures to ensure their safety during the conduct of police and military operations and to ensure strict compliance with the rules of IHL.