Colombia’s State Council has confirmed its rejection of an appeal that would have halted the dismissal of Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro, following last December’s much-debated decision by Colombia’s Inspector General to remove and ban him from public office for 15 years.
Brought to the council by Magistrate Guillermo Vargas Alaya, the appeal was originally denied by 14 votes to 11 on February 26. As part of the council’s procedure, a new appeal was then filed, taking the opposite position that Petro’s dismissal should be allowed to proceed without interference.
On Wednesday, the new appeal was presented by former President of the State Council Alfonso Vargas and was approved by the council’s magistrates.
In the meantime, Colombia’s Supreme Judiciary Council have once again postponed their verdict on a separate recourse that might keep Petro in the country’s second highest office.
Petro’s last hope with the State Council now lies in 36 citizen writs of protection, suits that can be filed by any citizen who feels their human or political rights are being violated, which are still to be assessed by the council.
Upon the initial rejection of the appeal, the council had stated that the primary reason for its decisions was that the Colombian Constitution does indeed allow Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez to dismiss elected officials without trial.
More importantly, however, Petro’s defense relied on the wrong recourse, the council said.
The more appropriate choice would have been to initiate a “process of invalidation and restoration of rights,” which would allow the council to make a judgement based on the legitimacy of Ordonez’s supposed justification for his decision, rather than his authority to make it.
At this moment in time, over 300 other writs of protection lie in wait of the verdict of a different judicial process, taking place within Colombia’s Supreme Judiciary Council.
On Tuesday this higher judicial body voted against an appeal to put the writs into motion – which would have effectively ended Petro’s dismissal process – by five votes to two.
As soon as the vote had been made, however, two requests by Mayor Petro suspended the decision, asking that new evidence be presented in the assessment of the writs of protection, and a deeper consideration of the Inter-American Convention of Human Rights, where yet another legal process is underway.
Magistrate Ovidio Claros demanded that Petro’s requests be studied and that the council deliver their verdict on Wednesday.
Nonetheless, the final decision has once again been delayed until Thursday.
Hundreds of writs of protection have been submitted by Colombian citizens since last December in an attempt to stall or revoke the decision by the Inspector General’s Office, claiming that the dismissal violates their fundamental rights to elect and be elected.