Practice Relating to Rule 2. Violence Aimed at Spreading Terror among the Civilian Population
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 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] or against private rights or the rights of individuals are absolutely unjustified, even where a political motive is claimed.
Thus: if such an attack against innocent [persons] and private rights 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 … It is not based on a legitimate … political motive … [as] it is not a sound ideal of governance to threaten and even deliberately kill the innocent. Terrorism is not one of the political crimes meriting a benefit [such as the impossibility of granting extradition]. Such a benefit would go against [the interests of] justice, criminal law and the moral sense of people …
Terrorism takes many forms, as it can be committed through several means. One is the kidnapping [hijacking] of planes, which is one of the acts of which … José María Ballestas Tirado is accused in Colombia. Another is the kidnapping of persons, which is also one of the acts of which … José María Ballestas Tirado is criminally accused (“extortive kidnapping”) in Colombia …
The authors … or suspects of offences that can be, and are, classified as terrorism
, must not be granted the right to asylum … when they are accused based on a solid [legal] basis of committing acts that not only disrupted the order of a given State, but that of all civilized nations. Solidarity must unite States in the rejection of this type of action. An international problem must have an international solution and, faced with the universalization of terrorism
, it is an international duty to lend all the cooperation to this effect: it is indispensable for the application of Humanitarian law that States grant each other mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.
[emphasis in original]
In concluding on whether extradition can be granted, the tribunal held:
Article 271 of the Constitution establishes:
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 … José María Ballestas Tirado
for the alleged commission of the ordinary offence of extortive kidnapping
, which … also constitutes, in general, international organized crime, and terrorism
[emphasis in original]