Constitution of the Republic of Colombia (7th August, 1886) [microform] online

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nal council, shall impose such fine npon the absent
members, as may be ]>rescribed by the Ilonses respeo-
tively. And the sessions shall be opened as soon as the
requisite number of members is present.


Congress shall assemble in extraordinary session
when summoned .by the Government. It shall, in sucli
sessions, consider onl}^ such business as is specially
submitted by the Government for its consideration.


By agreement of the two Ilonses, Congress may
assemble at a place different from the Capital, and in
the case of a public disturbance, it may assemble at a
place designated by the President of the Senate.


The two Ilonses of Congress shall assetnble as a
single body, only for the purpose of installing tlui
President of the Republic, and to perform the act
prescribed in article 77.

On such occasions the President of the Senate, and
tlie President of the House of Representatives, shall
be respectively the President and Yice-Presideut of


All meetings of members of Congress for the
purpose of exercising their legislative funtions, tint
shall not have taken place under the con-li i -ns })ri-s-
cribcd by the Constitution, shall be illegal ; their acts
shall bo null ; and the individn':ils uho participate*! in
the deliberations shall be punished according to law.


Congress shall make the laws.
By means of these laws, it exercises the following
f I. notions :

— 20 —

1. To interpret, amend, and repeal preexisting

2. To modify tlio general division of the territory
in accordance with articles 5 and G, and to establish
and reform, whenever proper, the other territorial divi-
sions defined in article 7.

3. To confer special powers npon the Depart-
ment Assemblies.

4:. To regnlate the Administration of Panama ;

5. To change the residence of the national offi-
cers, whenever under extraordinary circunstances and.
for grave reasons it may be deemed necessary for the
public convenience.

G. To organize and provide for the standing army
every two years in ordinary session.

7. To create all public offices required by the pu-
blic service, and to fix the respective salaries thereof.

8. To regulate the public service, determining all
the matters referred to in article 62.

9. To authorize the Government to make con-
tracts, negotiate loans, alienate national propei-ty and
exercise other prerogatives within constitucional li-

10. To invest the President of the Republic tem-
porarily with such extraordinary powers as necessity
may require or the public convenience demand.

11. To provide for the national revenues and to
determine the expenses of the administration.

Eiich legislature shall vote a general estimate

The estimate so made shall not include any item
not previously decreed by law nor a credit not judi-
cially recognized

12. To recognize the national debt and provide for
its ]vayment.

13. To decree extraordinary expenses whenever
necessity requires it.

14. To approve or disapprove contracts or [igrec-
mcnts entered into by the President of tlio T?;> public

— 21 —

M'ith private persons, companies or political corpora-
tions wherein the national Treasury is interested, if
thcj have not been previousley authorized, or if
the formalities prescribed by Congress have not been
complied with, or if any condition contained in the
law authorizing them has been disregarded.

15. To determine the alloyage,"we'ght, impress
and denomination of coins, and to regulate the system
of weights and measures.

16. To organize the public credit.

17. To decree the execution or continuance of«
public works and the erection of public monuments.

18. To aid the construction of such useful and
beneiicent works as may be deemed worthy of encou-
ragement and support.

19. To decree public honors to such citizens who
may have rendered distinguished services to the country.

20. To approve or disapprove the Treaties ente-
red into by the Government with foreign powers.

21. To grant, by a vote of two-thirds of the
members of each House, and for grave considerations
of the public good, amnesties and general pardon for
political offenses. In case the recipient of such amnes-
ty or pardon is thereby relieved fi-om responsibility to
any person, the Government shall assume the burden of
indemnifying such person.

22. To limit or regulate the appropriation or
conveying of waste lands.

Congress shall elect at its ordinary sessions, and
for a term of two years, the Designado who shall exer-
cise the Executive Power in default of both President
and Vice-President.

* " Designado," is the title of the olTicer designated by
tlie Congress to exercise the Executive Power of the Na-
tion iu the absence of both the President and Vice-Pre-

— 22 —


The following acts are prohibited to Congress and
to either of the Ilouses thereof :

1. To address appeals to public oiScers ;

2. To enact laws or adopt resolutions concerning
matters that are exclusively entrusted to other depart-
ments of the Gov^ernment ;

3. To vote approval or censure of any official act ;

4. To require the Government to communicate to
it the instructions given to diplomatic agents, or to
give information relative to negotiations of a private
character ;

5. To decree to any person any reward, indemni-
ty, pension, or other pecuniary consideration that is
not intended to satisfy credits or rights recognized
by existing laws, except in the case provided in article
7G, paragraph IS ;

6. To enact laws of banishment or persecution
against persons or corporations.



Abstract:— I. Method of originating legislative enactments. —
Limitation of the power.— Requisites for legalizing acts of
Congress. — II Participation of the Government in the deba-
tes. —Participation of the Supreme Court. — Rights and duties
of the Government relative to the approval of laws.— Formali-
ties to be observed in considering the objetions of the Govern-
nient. — Intervention of the Supreme Court. — III. The enac-
ting clause.


Laws may originate in either Plouse, and may bo
introduced l)y any member thereof or by the Minis-
ters of the Government.


Laws of the following classes shall be excepted
from the provision of the preceding article :

1. Such laws as must originate in the House of Re-
presentatives. (Article 102, section 2.'').

-23 —

■2. Sncli enactments as relate to the civil la^vt;
and to judicial proceediugs which can only be amended
by bills originating in a Committee of either Ilouse
■or with the Ministers of Governmerrt.

Xo legislative enactment shall become a law, unless:

1. It shall have passed three readings and been
adopted in each House on three different days by a
4iiajority of the members thereof ; and

2. It shall have obtained the approval of the Go-


The consideration of a law cannot be closed upon
the second reading thereof, nor can a vote be taken
thereof without the presence of an absolute majority
of the members composig the House.


The Government may talie part in all legislative
debates through the Ministers of the Government.


The Judges of the Supreme Court shall be entitled
to be heard in the discussion of all bills relating to
•civil laws and judicial procedure.


After a bill shall have passed both Housee, it shal
he sent to the Government, and if approved thereby
at shall be promulgated as a law.

If not approved, the Government shall return iit
^vith the objections thereto, to the House in which it


The President of tlie Republic stall be allowed
tlie term of six days within which to return a bill with
the objections, provided it does not contain more than

— 2i ^

fifty articles ; lie shall be allowed the term of ten days
^vhen the bill contains from iifty one to two hundred
articles, and fifteen days when the bill contains more
than two hundred articles.

If the President shall not have returned the bill with
the objections within the term prescribed therefor,
he shall approve and promulgate ft. But if the Houses
ghould adjourn within the term prescribed for the con-
sideration of a bill then in the hands of the President,
he sliall, within ten days after the adjournment, publish
the bill together with his approval or objections.


A bill objected to as a whole shall be returned by
the President for its consideration by the Houses on
the third reading. If it shall have been objected to
only in part, it shall be placed upon its second reading
with the sole object of considering the objections of
the government.


Any bill that shall be passed by two-thirds of the
members of both Houses, notwithstanding the objec-
tions of the President, shall be approved by him and
he shall not have the power to present new objections


If the Government shall fail to approve the bills
under the terms and according to the conditions esta-
blished by this Title, it shall be the duty of tlie Pre-
sident of Congress to approve and promulgate the


If a bill should be objected to for the reason that
it is unconstitutional, it shall be excepted from the pre-
vision of Article 88. In that case, if the Houses so
declare, it shall be referred to the Supreme Court
for its decision, which shall, within six days, decide

— 25 —

upon its constitutionality. If the decision of tlic Court
should be favorable to the bill, the President shall give
it his a])proval. If the decision be unfavorable, the bill
shall fail and be removed from the calender.


All bills left pending in either House upon their
adjournment shall not be considered otherwise than
as new bills by another Legislature.


The enacting clause of all laws shall be :
The Congress of Colombia




Abstract. — Composition of the Senate. — Qualifications of Se-
natoi-3. — Senatorial term and manner of its renewal — Judicia}
powers of the Senate. — Other powers of the Senate.


The Senate shall be composed of three Senators
from each Department.

Two substitutes shall be elected for each Senator,


Senators shall be native Colombians and in the
full enjoyment of their citizenship, they shall be
more than thirty years of age and shall be in the en-
joyment of an animal revenue of at least two thousand
dollars derived from property or the exercise of an
honest occupation.


Senators shall be elected for the term of six years,
and they shall be reeligible indetinitely.

One third part of the Senate shall be I'euewed
every two years, in the manner to be determined by

— 26 —


The Senate shall try all impeachments of public
•officers that may be presented by the House of Kepre-
sentatives, referred to in Article 102, section 4,


In all trials by the Senate, the following rul-es shall
be observed :

1. "Whenever an accusation is publicly made, the
accused shall be, ipso facto ^ suspended from his office.

2. If the accused be charged with offenses com-
mitted while in the performance of his public duties,
or with unfitness on account of misconduct, the So-
2iate shall not have the power to impose other penalty
than removal from office, or the temporary or perma-
nent deprivation of political rights; but if the accused
be charged with offenses that merit other penalties, he
shall be tried under criminal proceedings in the Su-
preme Court.

3. If the accused be charged with a eommou
crime, the Senate shall determine whether there be
grounds for proceeding against him, and in case of
<\x\ affirmative decision, it shall remand him to the Su-
preme Court for trial,

4. Tlie Senate shall refer the preparation of each
trial to a committee of its own body, reserving to itself
the duty of trial and of pronouncing sentence, which
shall be d^jne in open session and bj^ a vote of two-
thirds at least of the Senators who engage in the trial


The Senate shall a,lso be invested with the following
powers :

1. To reinstate those who have forfeited their
2-ights of citizenship. This act of clemency, according
to the ei rem m stances of each case, shall extend only
to electoral rights, or to the capacity to till public offi-
ces, or to the exercise of political functions ;

2. To appoint two members of the Council of State;

— 27 —

3. To accept or decline the resio-nations of the
President or Yice President, or Designado ;

4. To confirm or reject the nominations made by
tlie President of the Republic of judges of the Su-
preme Court ;

5. To confirm or reject the military appointments
made by the Government, from the rank of lieute-
nant-colonel to that of the highest offices in the Army
and Navy ;

6. To grant leave to the President of the Republic
to absent himself temporarily, from his office, for other
cause than for sickness, or to permit him to exercise
his functions outside of the capital ;

7. To permit the passage of foreign troops
through the territory of the Republic ;

8. To appoint the commissioners referred to in
Article 4 ;

9. To authorize the Government to declare war
against a foreign country.



Abstract — Composition of the House. — Qualifications of mem-
bers, and term of their office. — Powers of the House.


The House of Representatives shall consist of one
member for every fifty tliousand inhabitants of the
Republic. Two substitutes shall be elected for each

No person shall be a Representative who is not a
citizen in the full enjoyment of the rights thereof.
and who shall not be more than twentj^-five years of
age, or who shall have been comdemned for an offence
punishable with corporal punishuicnt.

— 28 —


EepresentativGS shall be elected for the term of
four years, and they shall be reeligible indefinitely.


The House of Representatives shall have the follo-
wing powers :

1. To examine and pronounce finally upon the
general account of the Treasury ;

2. To originate all laws for the laying of taxes,
and for the organization of the public Ministry ;

3. To appoint two Councillors of State ;

4. To impeach to the Senate, when occasion shall
require it, the President and Yice-President of the
Eepublic, the Ministers of State, the Councilors of
State, the A-ttorney General, and the Judges of the
Supreme Court;

5. To examine charges and complaints presented
to it by the Attorney General or by private persons,
against either of the above named public oflicers, except
the President and Yice-President, and if found pro-
per, to prepare articles of impeachment for the consi-
deration of the Senate.



ArsTRACT :— I. Powers common to both Houses.— Publicity of scs-
feious. — II. Representative character of the members of Con-
gress. — Irresponsibility for votes given. — Personal inmunity. —
Incompatibility of duties. — Pecuniary compensation.— Provi-
sions regarding vacancies.


Each of the two Houses shall have the following
powers :

1. To make regulations for the Government of its
own body, and to adopt such measures as it may deem
proper to ensure the attendance of its members ;

— 29 —

2. To create and provide for such offices as it may
deem necessary for the discharo-c of its business ;

3. To oro-anize, when necessary, a police force for
the building in which it hohls its sessii)ns ;

4. To examine wlietlicr the credentials presented
1)3' members are in accordance with haw and entitle
them to seats ;

5. To answer, or not, the messages of tlie Govern-
ment ;

6. To call upon the Ministers for written or ver-
bal information necessary for the public business, or
to inform themselves of the acts of the administration
except such as are reserved from this inquiry by aj'ti-
cle 7S, section 4 ;

7. To appoint commissioners to represent it in any
official act ;

8. To appoint speakers from its body to appear
before the other House in case of disagreement in the
formation of a law ;

9. To approve all the resolutions that it may deem
proper within the limits prescribed in article 78.

The sessions of the tv;o Houses shall be public,
within the limitations as prescribed by law.


The members of the two Houses represent the
who'e nation and should vote in the sole interest of
justice and the pnblic good.


Senators and Representatives shall not be held
responsible for votes and opinions given by tliom in
the exercise of their duties. For any expression in
debate they sliall be alone responsible to the House
to which they belong ; they may be called to order by
the presiding officer and punished according to the rc-
gidations for any offense committed.

— 30 —


During a session of Congress, and for forty days
prior thereto, no member thereof shall be brought
to civil or criminal trial witliout the permission of
the House to -which he belongs. In case of his being
discovered in the actual commission of an offense he
may bo arrested and placed at the disposition of
the House of which he is a member.


Tlie President and Vice-President of the Repu-
blic, the Ministers and Councilors of State, the Jud-
ges of the Supreme Court, the Attorney General of
the Nation, and the Governors, shall not be eligible
as members of Congress until six months after they
shall have ceased to perform the duties of their ofRces

No person shall be a Senator or Representative
for any Departament or electoral district in which,
three months prior to the election, he may have
exercised civil, political, or military jurisdiction or


The President of the Republic shall not have the
power to appoint Senators and Representatives to
any office during their respective terms, nor for one
year after the expiration thereof, except the offices of
Minister or Councilor of State, Governor, Diplomatic
agent, and Military chief in time of war.

The acceptance of either of these offices by a mem-
ber of Cungress shall vacate the seat of such member.


Senators and Representatives shall not, either di-
rectly or through third persons, enter into any contract
with the administration, nor shall they accept a power
of Attorney for the negotiation of any business with
the Government of Colombia.

— 31 —


Whenever a Senator or Kepresciitatlve sliall vacate-
Ins seat, and it shall be filled by his substitute, the
former shall be entitled to the travelling expenses to tlie
capital, and the latter to the travelling expenses to his

No iucrGa.8Q in the ^y^r diem pay of the members^
nor in the compensation or their travelling expenses ^
shall go into effect during the session in which the same
may have been enacted.

In case of the temporary of permanent absence of
a member of Congress, the vacancy shall be filled by
his substitute.


Abstract: — I. Election of the President. Qualifications. Oath of
office. — TI Functions of the President: «) in connection with
the Legislative Power*) with the judiciary; r) as supreme
admini.^tralive officer. His functions in time of wixr. — III. Res-
ponsihility of the President.— IV. JManner of providing for
liis ahsenee. — V. Of the Vice-President of the Republic. —
VI. Of the Designado.

ARTICLE 11 4-.

The l-*resident of the Republic shall bo elected by
tlic Electoral Assemblies voting on the sanic day, and
ill the manner determined by law, for a term of six


The President of the Republic shall possess the
same qualifications as a Senator.


The President elect of the Republic shall take
possession of his ofiice in the presence of the Presi-

__ 35

dent of Congress, and he shall take the following oatli :
"I swear before God to comply faithfully with the
Constitution and the laws of Colombia."


If, for any reason, the President should not be able
to take possession of his office in the presence of the
President of Congress, he shall do so before the Pre-
sident of the Supreme Court, and failing in this, be-
fore two witnesses.


The President of the Pepublic shall exercise the
following powers in relation to the Legislative depart-
ment :

1. To open and close the ordinary sessions of
Congress ;

2. To convene Congress in extraordinary sessions
for serious reasons of public convenience and after
previous consultation Avith the Council of State ;

3. To address to Congress, at the beginning of
each legislature, a message upon the acts of the admi-
nistration ;

4. To send, at the same time, to the House of Re-
presentatives, the budget of the revenues and expen-
ses, and a general acconnt of the Treasury ;

5. To furnish to the two Houses such information
as they may call for not requiring secrecy;

G. To furnish efficient aid to the two Houses
when they demand it, ])lacing at their disposal, if ne-
cessary, the whole public force ;

1. To cooperate in the enactment of laws, by pre-
senting bills through the medium of the Ministers, and
by exercising the right of veto and approval under
the Constitution ;

8. To issue decrees that shall have the binding
force of legislative enactments in such cases and with
such formalities as are prescribed in article 121.

— 33 —


The President of the Republic shall exercise the
following powers in relation to tlie judiciary depar-
tament :

1. To appoint tlie Judges of the Supreme Court ;

2. To appoint the Judges of the Superior Tribii-
bunals, each one from a list of three nominations made
to him by the Supreme Court ;

3. To appoint and remove the public Ministers ;

4. To see that prompt and full justice is adminis-
tered all over the Republic, furnishing judicial offi-
cers, under the provisions of law, with such aid aa
may be necessary for the enforcement of their de-
crees ;

5. To cause to be acused before a competent tri-
bunal, through the respective agent of the public Mi-
nistry, or by a special attorney appointed for the pur-
pose, the Governors of Department, or any other
national or municipal officers charged with administra-
tive or judicial duties ; for any violation of the Cons-
titution or laws, or for other offences committed in the
exercise of their functions ;

6. To commute the sentence of death, with the
previous consent of the Council of State, for the punish-
ment next proceeding it in the penal scale, and to
grant pardons for political offenses and commutations
of sentence for co»nmon offenses, in accordance with
the laws that regulate the exercise of this power. In
no case shall these pardons and commutations relieve
the beueiiciaries of responsibilities due by them to
private persons, under the laws.

He shall not exercise the last prerogative towards
the Ministers of State, except upon a petition from one
of the Houses of Congress.


The President of the Republic sliall exercise the
following power as the Chief Executive offier of the
Nation :


— 34 —

1. To appoint and remove at his pleasure, the Mi-
nisters of State ;

2. To promulgate the laws, to obey them, and to
see that they are faithfully executed ;

3. To perform his general executive power by
issuing ordinances, decrees and resolutions necessary to
the execution of the laws ;

4. To appoint and remove, at his pleasure, the
Governors ;

5. To appoint two Conncilors of State ;

6. To appoint all persons in the national service
not otherwise provided for by the Constitution and
the lav/s to be hereafter enacted.

In all cases the Pres^ident shall have the power to
appoint and remove his agents, at his pleasure ;

7. To control the public force and to confer mili-
tary appointments, under the restrictions imposed in
section 5 of article 98, and with the formalities esta-
blished by law for the exercise of this power ;

8. To preserve and maintain public order throu-
ghout the Republic ;

9. To direct, whenever he may think proper, the

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Online LibraryColombiaConstitution of the Republic of Colombia (7th August, 1886) [microform] → online text (page 2 of 4)