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Colombia
Practice Relating to Rule 90. Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
Colombia’s Circular on Fundamental Rules of IHL (1992) provides: “Nobody shall be subjected to mental or physical torture … cruel or degrading treatment.” 
Colombia, Transcripción Normas Fundamentales del Derecho Humanitario Aplicables en los Conflictos Armados, Circular No. 033/DIPL-SERPO-526, Policía Nacional, Dirección General, Santafé de Bogotá, 14 May 1992, § 5.
Colombia’s Basic Military Manual (1995) provides that persons hors de combat, the wounded and sick, and detained persons shall not be subjected to torture or cruel or humiliating treatment. 
Colombia, Derecho Internacional Humanitario – Manual Básico para las Personerías y las Fuerzas Armadas de Colombia, Ministerio de Defensa Nacional, 1995, p. 29
The manual adds that the civilian population shall not be tortured. 
Colombia, Derecho Internacional Humanitario – Manual Básico para las Personerías y las Fuerzas Armadas de Colombia, Ministerio de Defensa Nacional, 1995, p. 30.
The manual restates the provisions of common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions. 
Colombia, Derecho Internacional Humanitario – Manual Básico para las Personerías y las Fuerzas Armadas de Colombia, Ministerio de Defensa Nacional, 1995, p. 42.
Colombia’s Operational Law Manual (2009) states:
[Article 3 common to the four 1949 Geneva Conventions] establishes the conduct that is not permitted in relation to protected persons (although it should be noted that most of this conduct is also prohibited in relation to persons participating in hostilities):
(i) violence to life and person, in particular … cruel treatment, torture and torment;
(ii) … outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment. 
Colombia, Manual de Derecho Operacional Manual FF.MM. 3-41 Público, Primera Edición 2009, Comando General de las Fuerzas Militares, aprobado por el Comandante General de las Fuerzas Armadas por Disposición Número 056, 7 December 2009, p. 41.
[footnote in original omitted]
The manual also states: “Both international human rights law and IHL equally vehemently prohibit torture, for example, or hostage-taking, or outrages upon personal dignity.” 
Colombia, Manual de Derecho Operacional Manual FF.MM. 3-41 Público, Primera Edición 2009, Comando General de las Fuerzas Militares, aprobado por el Comandante General de las Fuerzas Armadas por Disposición Número 056, 7 December 2009, pp. 75–76.
The manual further states:
3. Procedure for the demobilization of members of illegal armed groups
… [A] demobilized person is a member of an illegal armed organization that expresses his or her willingness to demobilize. Once the individual freely expresses this will, he or she must immediately be treated in accordance with the following rules:
- … any type of ill-treatment, whether verbal or physical, will be rigorously punished in accordance with the applicable disciplinary or penal regime, depending on the case;
- if a member of an illegal armed group expressing his or her willingness to demobilize hands himself or herself over to a military unit, … he or she may not be subjected to any kind of threat or be forced to provide information[.] 
Colombia, Manual de Derecho Operacional Manual FF.MM. 3-41 Público, Primera Edición 2009, Comando General de las Fuerzas Militares, aprobado por el Comandante General de las Fuerzas Armadas por Disposición Número 056, 7 December 2009, pp. 130–131.
Colombia’s Penal Code (2000) punishes anyone who, during an armed conflict, carries out or orders the carrying out of acts of torture, serious wounding of protected persons or inhuman and degrading treatment. 
Colombia, Penal Code, 2000, Articles 136, 173 and 146.
Colombia’s Decree on Reparation to Victims of Armed Groups (2008) states:
The State shall recognize and pay directly to victims, or to the beneficiaries mentioned in this decree, … compensation in the form of the following sums depending on the fundamental rights violated:
- torture:
Thirty legal monthly minimum wages. 
Colombia, Decree on Reparation to Victims of Armed Groups, 2008, Article 5.
The Decree also states:
CONSIDERING : …
That according to paragraph 1 of Article 15 of Law 418 of 1997, modified and extended by Laws 548 of 1999, 782 of 2002 and 1106 of 2006 [the Law on Judicial Cooperation, as amended] “victims of political violence are those persons belonging to the civilian population who suffer harm to their lives or serious deterioration of their personal integrity or their belongings due to terrorist attacks, fighting, kidnapping, attacks and massacres in the context of the internal armed conflict. Displaced persons are victims under the terms of article 1 of Law 387 of 1997.” 
Colombia, Decree on Reparation to Victims of Armed Groups, 2008, Preamble.
In 1995, Colombia’s Constitutional Court held that the prohibitions contained in Article 4(2) of the 1977 Additional Protocol II coincided with the protection of human dignity and life and the prohibition of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment established by Articles 11 and 12 of the Constitution. 
Colombia, Constitutional Court, Constitutional Case No. C-225/95, Judgment, 18 May 1995.
In 2005, in the Constitutional Case No. C-148/05, the Plenary Chamber of Colombia’s Constitutional Court stated:
[T]he objective of preventing and punishing torture is an ethical and legal imperative for States and democratic societies because such practice violates the very essence of human dignity, human nature and the fundamental rights inherent in it. Therefore, torture is expressly proscribed at the international level. 
Colombia, Constitutional Court, Constitutional Case No. C-148/05, Judgment of 22 February 2005, § 3.3.2.1.
In 2005, in the Constitutional Case No. C-203/05, the Plenary Chamber of Colombia’s Constitutional Court stated:
Criminal prosecutions of minors must strictly comply with the minimum constitutional and international norms found in (i) Article 44 of the Constitution [and] (ii) the Beijing Rules or “the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice” … They all include standards that must be complied with as part of the Colombian domestic legal framework, as expressly stated in Article 44 of the Constitution according to which children are entitled to the totality of rights found in international instruments. 
Colombia, Constitutional Court, Constitutional Case No. C-203/05, Judgment of 8 March 2005, § 4.6.2; see also § 4.2.5.
The Court also found:
Rule 17 [of the ‘Beijing Rules’] states that … (f) minors shall not be subject to corporal punishment, thereby specifying the more general prohibition against cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment as established by international human rights law and the Constitution. 
Colombia, Constitutional Court, Constitutional Case No. C-203/05, Judgment of 8 March 2005, § 4.2.5.1.15.
(footnote in original omitted )
The Court further held:
As members of the civilian population affected by internal armed conflicts, children and adolescents have the right to respect for the fundamental guarantees granted to all persons not actively participating in hostilities, as established by Article 3 common to the [1949] Geneva Conventions … In accordance with this article, in cases of non-international armed conflicts in the territory of one of the Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply certain minimum guarantees without affecting their legal status as parties to the conflict, including: (1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities shall be treated humanely in all circumstances without adverse distinction based on discriminatory criteria; (2) To this end, the following acts are prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons (including children): (a) Violence to life and person, in particular … cruel treatment and torture. 
Colombia, Constitutional Court, Constitutional Case No. C-203/05, Judgment of 8 March 2005, § 5.4.2.2.
In 2007, in the Constitutional Case No. C-291/07, the Plenary Chamber of Colombia’s Constitutional Court stated:
[T]he essential principles of international humanitarian law have acquired ius cogens status, based on the fact that the international community as a whole has recognised their peremptory and imperative nature in the same way it has recognised this for other cardinal provisions such as … the prohibition of torture. 
Colombia, Constitutional Court, Constitutional Case No. C-291/07, Judgment of 25 April 2007, p. 70.
The Court also held:
Taking into account … the development of customary international humanitarian law applicable in internal armed conflicts, the Constitutional Court notes that the fundamental guarantees stemming from the principle of humanity, some of which have attained ius cogens status, … [include] the prohibition of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, itself a ius cogens norm, … [and] the prohibition of corporal punishment. 
Colombia, Constitutional Court, Constitutional Case No. C-291/07, Judgment of 25 April 2007, p. 112.
[footnote in original omitted]
In 2010, in the El Iguano case, the Justice and Peace Chamber of Colombia’s High District Court of Bogotá convicted a member of the paramilitary group Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia) of several crimes committed against the civilian population. The Court stated:
137. In order to meet the objectives established by the commanders of the organization, that is, “to combat its natural enemy: the guerrillas” and their supposed collaborators or sympathizers and to carry out executions pursuant to the misnamed “social cleansing” policy, [its members] resorted to certain criminal acts such as … torture … in the areas where they were present.
197. … [I]t is possible to conclude that the … torture … attributed to the accused ha[s] a functional link with the internal armed conflict and, therefore, must be classified as war crimes …
213. In conclusion, the 170 deaths, the torture, the acts of terrorism, destruction of protected objects, forced displacement and extorsions or arbitrary contributions addressed by this decision constitute grave violations of international humanitarian law. The law of Geneva prohibits this conduct – except for the levies and arbitrary contributions – and obliges the State to prevent, investigate and punish them. In this sense:
218. Torture. It is prohibited by, among other international instruments, article 3 common to the four [1949] Geneva Conventions, article 12 of both the First Geneva Convention and the Second Geneva Convention, article 5(1) of the [1969] American Convention on Human Rights or San Jose Pact, the [1975 UN] Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the [1984] Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment; [and] the [1985] Inter-American Convention against Torture. Moreover, article 8(2)(c)(i) of the [1998] ICC Statute provides for the war crime of torture in non-international armed conflicts. [The war crime] is further developed in article 8(2)(a)(ii)-I of the [2002 ICC] Elements of Crimes.
219. At the domestic level, article 12 of the [1991] Constitution provides that: “Nobody shall be subjected to enforced disappearance, torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment”.
220. In order to be classified as a war crime, the ill-treatment (physical or psychological pain or suffering inflicted on the victim) must serve the group’s purposes related to the armed conflict. This distinguishes torture as a war crime from torture as a crime against humanity ([2000] Penal Code, article 137 on torture of protected persons and article 178 on torture).
221. … [T]he crime of torture [at stake] must be included in this category, as the physical aggressions suffered by [the victims] were committed with the objective of obtaining their confessions regarding their membership of a subversive group. This objective was successfully met in relation to [one of the victims]. Afterwards, they were murdered, in accordance with the criminal plan of the illegal organization.
285. Therefore, … the torture … [was] consummated with knowledge and intent by the [accused] with the aim of contributing to the objectives of the criminal paramilitary organization. 
Colombia, High District Court of Bogotá, El Iguano case, Judgment, 2 December 2010, §§ 137, 197, 218–221 and 285.
[footnote in original omitted]
In 2005, in the Constitutional Case No. C-148/05, the Plenary Chamber of Colombia’s Constitutional Court stated:
[R]egarding torture of a protected person, Article 137 of Law 599 of 2000 … states that
a person who, in the course of and in relation with an armed conflict, inflicts on another person grave pain or suffering, physical or mental, for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him or her for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, shall be liable upon conviction to 10 to 20 years’ imprisonment, a fine of 500 to 1000 legal minimum wages, and disqualification from holding public office for 10 to 20 years.
This article thus includes the same definition of torture found in Article 178 of Law 599 of 2000 but defines it specifically for cases involving protected persons under international law and establishes a heavier penalty. 
Colombia, Constitutional Court, Constitutional Case No. C-148/05, Judgment, 22 February 2005, § 3.3.2.2.
Regarding the use of the term “grave” in the above-quoted provision, the Court stated:
The Court declares as non-enforceable the expression “grave” contained in article 137 of Law 599 of 2000 [Penal Code], which provides for the crime of torture of a protected person, and article 178 of the same law because (i) this expression clearly violates the [1985] Inter-American Convention [against Torture] and, consequently, article 93 [of the 1991 Constitution, which provides that international human rights treaties ratified by Colombia prevail in the internal legal order]; and (ii) article 12 of the Constitution [which prohibits torture] does not restrict the prohibition of torture[.] 
Colombia, Constitutional Court, Constitutional Case No. C-148/05, Judgment, 22 February 2005, § 4.2.
[footnote in original omitted]