In 2005, the United Nations Human Rights Commission, explained impunity as the absence of criminal responsibility by perpetrators of violations, as well as of civil, administrative or disciplinary responsibility. This is because all too often, they escape any investigation of their indictment, arrest, prosecution and, even if they’re eventually found guilty, there are barely any appropriate sentences, and even compensation for the damage caused to their victims.
Similarly, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights defines impunity as the lack of investigation, persecution, capture, trial and conviction of those responsible for violations or crimes.
Then there is the Global Impunity Index from the Universidad de las Américas Puebla which shows that high levels of impunity may be related to problems with access to justice, the fragility of the rule of law, insufficient economic development, socioeconomic inequality, difficulty attracting new sources of foreign investment and tourism, and – especially – the violation of human rights.
Impunity in itself is no less a violation of all types of rights (civil, political, economic, social and cultural). It occurs as a consequence of a lack of justice brought about by governments not carrying out their obligations nor promoting or protecting their integrity, as well as the lack of a functioning operation and the necessary steps being taken to combat it
Some examples of impunity, in a government like our’s in Colombia, can be:
- Money awarded through public contracts not being investigated.
- The investigation process against defendants being called off due to expiration of terms.
- Criminal proceedings stopped by order.
- The absence of investigation due to capacity or because it is a crime that can be committed by people with a greater concentration of money to bribe and who can therefore avoid the initiation of a new investigation against them.
- Impunity is a problem of enormous magnitude that exists not only in Colombia, but also in America and around the world. It generates setbacks, damage and social destruction. Impunity is valued and endorsed only by those who are part of this vicious circle, which civil society is poised to destroy through public empowerment, collective oversight, denunciation and interrelation with organizations that want to join the fight.
The Anti-Corruption Institute provides a series of valuable tools and information to members of the public to raise awareness of how to combat corruption and, as a result, minimise impunity. Some of these social control tools are: a complaints channel, reports of findings related to the institutional performance of public entities, public policy guidelines on anti-corruption, statistics related to electoral processes, platforms for the identification and knowledge of the activities and actions of the different entities of the judicial branch and control bodies such as IntegriData. All this in order to combat impunity and make different tools available to entities and members of the public to fight against this phenomenon.