Practice Relating to Rule 96. Hostage-Taking
In 2001, in the Ballestas case, the Colombian Government requested the preventive detention and extradition of a Colombian citizen belonging to the armed group known as the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (National Liberation Army) for the crimes of rebellion, kidnapping, wrongful death, seizure and diversion of aircraft. The Chamber of Criminal Appeals of Venezuela’s Supreme Tribunal of Justice stated:
In case of national armed conflict, Article 3 [common to the 1949 Geneva Conventions] establishes as a minimum the obligation to treat non-combatants “humanely”, thus prohibiting … in particular … hostage-taking … The standards of Article 3 are considered to be a part of customary law and constitute the minimum – in terms of obligations – that belligerents must always respect.
The tribunal held:
It is a firm and incontrovertible fact that political armed struggle must be governed by the laws of war. As a result, attacks against innocent [people] … are absolutely unjustified, even where a political motive is claimed.
Thus: if such an attack against innocent [persons] … is carried out with such a violence and malicious intent that it causes unnecessary suffering, havoc and terror, it would [constitute the offence of] indiscriminate terrorism, namely [those acts] that are not selective when choosing their targets and expressly target the innocent.
Terrorism, and particularly indiscriminate terrorism, ignores the requirements of Humanitarian … law; it endangers innocent human lives and many times destroys them …
takes many forms, as it can be committed through several means. … Another is the kidnapping of persons
, which is also one of the acts of which … [the accused] is criminally accused (“extortive kidnapping”) in Colombia.
[emphasis in original]
In concluding whether extradition could be granted, the tribunal held:
[T]his Supreme Tribunal of Justice considers it pertinent to grant the extradition of … [the accused], requested by the Government of Colombia … for … extortive kidnapping … [which] is not [considered political] … nor connected [with a political offence] …
Similarly, Article 271 of the Constitution provides:
Article 271.- In no case can the extradition of foreigners be denied [when they are] responsible for committing the offences of … international organized crimes, acts against the public heritage of other States and against human rights.
The Chamber, in compliance with the abovementioned constitutional provision, … grants the extradition of … [the accused] for the alleged commission of the ordinary offence of extortive kidnapping
, which … also constitutes, in general, [the offence of] international organized crimes, and of terrorism
[emphasis in original]