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

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military operations as chief of the armies of the Repu-
blic. If he should personally exercise the military
command beyond the limits of the capital, the Vice
President shall then assume charge of the other duties
of the Executive office ;

10. To direct diplomatic and commercial rela-
tions with other powers and sovereigns, to appoint at
his pleasure and to receive the respective Agents, and
to negotiate treaties and conventions with foreign
powers.

All treaties shall be submitted to Congress for
its approval, and all conventions, in the recess of the
two Plouses, shall be approved by the. President with
the consent of the Ministers and of the Council of
State.

11. To provide for the exterior safety of the Re-
public, defending the independence and honor of the



— 35 —

Nation, and the inviolability of the territory ; to de-
clare war, with the consent of the Senate, or to make
war without such consent whenever it became neces-
sary to repel a foreign invasion ; and to conclude and
ratify the_treaty of |)eace, reporting his proceedings
with documents to the next legislature.

12. To permit, in the recess of the Senate and
after liaving previously consulted the Council of State,
the passage of foreign troops across the territory of
the Republic.

13. To permit, after consultation with the Council
of State, the harboring of foreign vessels of war
within the waters of the Nation.

14. To supervise the strict collection and admi-
nistration of the revenues and public moneys, and to
decree their disbursement according to law.

15. To regulate, direct and inspect public natio-
nal education.

16. To enter into administrative contracts for the
engagement of services or for the performance of pu-
blic works, in accordance with the fiscal laws, and
rendering account thereof to the Congress in its ordi-
nary session.

17. To organize the National Bank and to exer-
cise the necessary inspection over banks of emission
and other establishments of credit in conformity with
the laws.

18. To permit the acceptance, by the national
employees who may request it, of offices or gifts from
foreign governments.

ly. To issue letters of naturalization in confor-
mity with law ;

20. To grant patents for prescribed periods to the
authors of useful inventions and improvements, in
accordance with the laws.

21. To exercise the right of inspection and vigi-
lance over institutions of common utility, in order
that their revenues may be preserved and properly
applied, and that the will of the founders may be in
all respects carried out.



— 36 —

ARTICLE 121,

In ca^e of a foreign war or of civil commotion,
the President maj, after consultation with the coun-
cil of State and with the written consent of all the
Ministers, declare the llepnblic to be in a St:ite of
war or public order to be disturbed in the Repu-
blic or in a part thereof.

After 6U3h a declaration shall have been proclaim-
ed, the President shall be invested with all the po-
wers conferred by law to defend the rights of the Na-
tion or repress the disturbance, and in case siieh law
shall not be efficient for the purpose, he shall use the
powers conferred bj the L^iso of Nations. The ex-
traordinary tticasures or decrees of a provisional charac-
ter within the said limits, which the President may
ordain, shall be binding, provided they bear the sig-
natures of all the Ministers.

The Government shall declare the restoration of
public peace whenever the civil commotion or foreign
war shall have ceased ; and shall send to Congress a
report of the reasons that induced his measures. All
officers shall be responsible for the abuse of extraordi-
nary powers contided to them.

ARTICLE 122.
The President of the Ilepublic, or whosoever shall
exercise the Executive powers iu his stead, shall bo
responsible only in the following cases, to be defined
by law :

1. For acts of violence or coercion at elections ;

2. For acts that may prevent the constitutional
assembling of the legislative Houses, or may obstruct
them or other public corporations or authorities esta-
blished by the Constitution, in the exercise of their
duties; and

3. For acts of high treason.

In the first two <-ases, the penalty shall be removal
from office, and if he shall have ceased to exercise hia
office of President, he shall not be reeligible to the
presidency.



— 37 —

No act of the President, except the appointment and
removal of Ministers, phall be valid or l)indin^ until
it shall have been signed and promulgated by the Mi-
nister to whose department it refers, which Minister
shall then he responsible fur the same.

ALTICLE 123.

The Senate may grant a leave of absence to the
President from his Executive office.

The President may, on account of bad health, re-
tire, for the time necessary to its restoration, from
his public duties by giving previous notice thereof to
the Senate, or, if not in session, to the Supreme
Court.

ARTICLE 124.

The Vice President of the Republic shall peform
the duties of the Executive office, during the tempo-
rary absence of the President.

In case of the permanent absence of the President,
the Vice President shall occupy the Executive office
until the expiration of the term for which he was
elected.

The death or accepted resignation of tlie President
shall be considered cases of peruianent absence.

ARTICLE 125.

Whenever the Vice President, for any reason, shall
not be able to discharge the duties of the Presidency,
they shall be performed by the Uesignado elected by
Congress for the two years during which the disability
occurs.

AVhenever, for any reason, tlie Congress may have
failed to elect a Uesigna<lo, tlie Designado who was
last elected shall continue to act in that ca|)acity.

Ir. tlic abscr.cc of both the Vice President and T>e-
signado, the Executive offi-e shall be tilled by the Mi-
nisters and the Governors, the latter in the order of the
proximity of their residence to the capital of the Ke-
public. The Council of State shall have the power, in



each case in which pnch vacancy may occur, to desig-
nate the Minister wlio shall till the Executive office*

ARTICLE 126.
The person in charge of the Executive office shall
enjoy the same privileges and exercise the same powers
accorded to the President whose office he fills.

ARTICLE 127.

The citizen who may have been elected President
of the Republic shall not be reelected for the follo-
wing term, provided he filled the Executive office
during the eighteen months inmediately preceding the
new election.

The citizen who may have been called to the exer-
cise of the Presidency and who shall have performed
its duties within the six months next preceding the
new election, shall not be eligible to the Presidency.

ARTICLE 128.
The Vice President of the Republic shall be elect-
ed at the same time, by the same electors and for the
same term as the President.

ARTICLE 129.

The Yice President shall possess the same qualifi-
cations as the President.

ARTICLE 130.

The Vice President shall be the presiding officer
of the Ccmncil of State, and he shall perform such
other duties as shall be imposed upon him by law.

ARTICLE 131.
In case of the permanent absence of the Vice Pre-
sident, his office shall remain vacant until the end of
his constitutional term.



39 —



TITLE XII.

OF THE MINISTERS OF STATE.

Abstract. — Administrative Departments. — Qualifications of Mi-
nisters. — Their functions. — Delegated powers exercised by
them.

ARTICLE 132.

The number, names and precedence of the several
Ministers of administrative Department, shall be de-
termined by law.

The President shall assign to the several Ministers
the business that appertains to their departments res-
pectively.

ARTICLE 133.

A Minister shall possess the same qualifications as
a Representative.

ARTICLE 134.

The Ministers are the Government's organs of
communication with Congress ; they present bills to
the two Houses, take part in the debates and counsel
the President in his consideration of legislative acts.

Each Minister shall present to Congress, within
the first fifteen days of each legislature, a report upon
the condition of affairs appertaining to his Depart-
ment and advise such reforms as experience may
suggest.

The two Houses m.iy require the asistance of the
Ministers.

ARTICLE 13^.

The Ministers, as superior chiefs of the adminis-
tration, may exorcise presidential authority in certain
cases, according as the President may direct. Under
their own responsibility, they may annul, reform or
suspend the acts of their subordinate officers



— 40



TITLE XIII.

OF THE COUNCIL OF STATE.

Abstract: — Formation of Council of State. — Division of the
Council into Sections. — Substitutes. — Powers of the Council.

ARTICLE 136.

Tlie Council of State shall consist of seven per'
sons, to wit : the Vice-pi'esident of the Republic, who
shall preside, and six voting members, in accordance
with this Constitution. The Ministers of State shall
have a voice in the Council, but shall not be permit-
ted to vote therein.

ARTICLE 137.
The office of a Councilor of State is incompatible
with any other employment.

ARTICLE 138.
The Councilors of State shall hold their office for
four years, and one-half of the Council shall be renew-
ed every two years.

ARTICLE 139.
The Council shall be divided into Sections for the
performance of its proper duties in such manner as the
law may direct or as the Council itself may ordain.

ARTICLE 140.

The law shall determine the number of substitu-
tes for the Councilors, and the rules in regard to the
mode of their appointment, their services and responsi-
bilities.

ARTICLE 141.

The Council of State shall possess the following
atributes :

1. To act as the Supi-eme Consulting body of
the Government, in matters of administration, in
which case they shall be heard regarding all affairs



— 41 —

committed to their advise by the Constitution and the
laws. The opinions of the Council shall not be binding
upon the Government except in a vote for the commu-
tation of tlie death penalty.

2. To prepare bills and Codes for the considera-
tion of the two Houses, and to propose such reforms
as they may deeni proper in the several branches of
legislation.

3. To decide, without appeal, all controversies
within the administrative department of the Govern-
ment, provided the law shall establish this jurisdic-
tion either original and exclusive, or appellate.

In this case the Council shall have a section to
whom such controversies shall be referred and also an
attorney, both to be created by law.

4. To keep a register of their opinions and reso-
hitions, and tt» transmit a copy thereof, through the
Government, to the Congress within fifteen days after
the opening of the regular sessions, except the secret
business of the Council, as long as the secrecy may
be demeed necessary.

5. Tu establish its own regulations for the conduct
of its business, with the obligation that it shall hold as
many sessions in each month as shall be necessary to
discharge the l)usiness appertaining thereto.

And all such other attributes as the law may ordain.

TITLE XIV.

OF THE PUBLIC MINISTRY,

Abstract.— Attributes of the Public Ministry.— Of the Attorney-
General. — His term of office. — His functions.

ARTICLE 142.

The public Ministry shall be exercised, under the
direction of the Government, by an Attorney-Gene-
ral of the Nation, by ministerial oflicers of the Supe-
rior District tribunals and by the other functionaries
to be designated by law.

The House of Representatives shall exercise mi-
nisterial functions.



— 42 —

ARTICLE 143.

The officers of the Public Ministry shall defend
the interests of the Kation, promote the execution of
the laws, judicial sentences and administrative orders ;
they shall supervise the official conduct of public em-
ployees : and prosecute those guilty of crimes and mis-
demeanors that disturb the social order.

ARTICLE 144.
The term of office of the Attorney-General shall
be three years.

ARTICLE 145.
The Attorney-Goneral of the Nation shall be
vested with the following functions :

1. To see that all public officers in the service of
the Nation shall properly discharge their duties.

2. To arraign before the Supreme Court all officers
who are to be tried by it.

3. To see that all the other officers of the Public
Ministry shall faithfully discharge their duties and
to hold them to a legal responsibility for all illegal
acts.

4. To appoint and remove at his pleasure his imme-
diate subordinate officers.

And all such other functions as the law may assign
to him.

TITLE XV.

OF THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE.

Abstract:— I Supreme Court of Justice. — Term of office and
qualifications of the Judges. — Attributes of the Supreme
Court. — II. Superior District Tribunals. — Qualifications and
term of office of its members. — III. Inferior Tribunals. — Qua-
lifications of Judges. — IV. Miscellaneous provisions concer-
ning the several judges. — V. General Rules— VI. Juries in
criminal cases; — Commercial Courts; — Administrative dis-
agreements.

ARTICLE 146.

The Supreme Court shall be composed of seven
judges.



— 4:5 —

AKTICLE 147.

The judges of tlio Siiprctiic Court shall fill their
office during good behavior. The law shall determine
the causes for which th(?y are removable and the forma-
lities to be observed in declaring judicial sentence in
such cases.

Any judge who may accept any other office from
the Government, shall be held to have vacated his
judgeship.

ARTICLE 148.

The President of the Supreme Court shall be elect-
ed every four years by the Court itself.

ARTICLE 149.
There shall be seven substitutes appointed to supply
the temporary vacancies that may occur on the Su-
preme bench. Whenever a permanent vacancy shall
occur, either by death, resignation, or under a constitu-
tional provision or by judicial decree, a new appoint-
ment shall be made to supply the vacancy.

ARTICLE 150.

The judges of the Supreme Court shall be Colom-
bians by birth and in the exercise of the full rights of ci-
tizenship; they shall be at least thirty live years of age
and h ive presided as judges in one of the Superior Dis-
trict Tribunals or in one of the Tribunals of the for-
mer States, or they shall have pursued, with credit,
for five years at least, the profession of law, or have
been professors of jurisprudence in some public ins-
titution.

ARTICLE 151.

The Supreme Court shall exercise the following
functions :

1. To take cognizance of causes on appeal, confor-
mably with the law.

2. To adjust all disagreements that may arise betw-
een two or more District Tribunals.



— 44 —

3. To take cognizance of all lawsuits in which the
Nation may be interested, or which may involve a
controversy between two or more Uepartments.

4. To decide, tiFially, upon the constitutionality of
all legislative acts, that may have been objected to by
the Government for alleged unconstitutionality.

5. To decide, in conformity with law, upon the
validity or nullity of such ordinances enacted by the De-
partments as may have been suspended by the Govern-
ment or denounced before the Tribunals as subver-
sive of civil rights.

6. To try the high national officers who may have
been accused before the Senate for any offense that is
made triable thereby under article 97.

7. To take cognizance of all causes for violation
of the Constitution or laws, or for malfeasance in office,
that may be institute"! against Diplomatic or Con-
sular Agents of the Ee])iiblic, Governors, Judges,
Commanders or Generals of the national forces, and
the chiefs of the principal Treasury offices of the
Nation.

8. To take cognizance of all causes affecting Di-
plomatic agents accredited to the Government of the
Nation, which are provided for by international law.

9. To take cognizance of all causes relating to the
navigation of the sea or of navigable revers flowing
through the territory of the Nation.

And all such other functions as the law may assign
to it.

ARTICLE 152.

The Court shall appoint and remove, at pleasure, its
subordinate officers.

ARTICLE 153.

In order to facilitate the prompt a'lministration of
justice, the national territory shall be divided into
Judicial Districts, in each of which there shall be a
Superior Tribunal, whose formation and functions
shall be determined by law



- 45 —

ARTICLE 1 54.

In order to serve as a judge in the Superior
Tribunals, it is required to be a citizen in the exercise
of citizenship, to be thirty yenrs of age at least, and
to have creditably practici-d the profession of the law,
or taught iu a public institution.

AUTICLE 155.

The provisions contained in article 147, shall apply
to judges of the Superior Tribunals. They shall be
responsible to the Supreme Court, in the manner to be
determined by law, for all malfeasance in office and
for the commission of all acts in derogation of official
dignity.

ARTICLE 156.

The Inferior Courts shall be organized, and their
functions and the terms of their judges shall be de
termined, by laws to be enacted for the purpose.
ARTICLE 157.

Every person tilling the office of judge shall be a
citizen in the full enji»yment of the rights of citizen-
ship, shall bj learned in the law, and shall bear a good
reputation.

The second requisite herein prescribed, shall not
be required of municipal judges.

ARTICLE 158.
Inferior judges shall be held responsible by their
respective Superiors.

ARTICLE 159.

Judicial offites shall not be cumulative ; and they
are incompatible with the exercise of any other office
of em')lumont or with any participation in the prac-
tice of the law.

ARTICLE 160.

Judges shall not be suspended from the exercise
of their functions except in the cases and under the



— 46 —

formalities prescribed by law, nor otherwise than hy
a judicial decree. And their trantferenee to other
employments thall leave their jncigethip vacant.

The salaries of the Judges thall not be abrogated
or diminished, if they should suffer any prejudice in
consequence thereof.

ARTICLE 161.

Every sentence shall be accompained by the reasons
therefor.

ARTICLE 102.

The law may institute juries for the trial of cri-
minal suits,

ARTICLE 163.

Courts of Commerce may be established.

ARTICLE 161:.

There may be established by law Tribunals with
jurisdiction to resolve adminihtrative differences, which
Tiibnnals shall take cognizance of all differences occa-
sioned by the administrative acts of the several De-
partments; and power may also be given to the Coun-
cil of State to decide all conflicts between the several
Ministries of the administration.



TITLE XVI.

OF THE PUBLIC FORCE.

Abstract.— Military service. — Standing army.— Force, Duties
and riglits of soldiers.— Courts Martial.— National militia.

ARTICLE 16.5.

All Colombians shall be required to bear arms
when public necessity requires that they should do so
to defend the national independence and the institu-
tions of the country.

All exemptions from military service shall be de-
termined by law.



— 47 —

ARTICLE 'i66.

The Nation shall keep a standing army for its
defense. The law shall determine the mode of filling
vacancies in the army, as well as all matters relating
to the promotion, rights and duties of soldiers.

ARTICLE 167.

Whenever the law shall fail to fix the number of
the standing army, the provisions of the preceding law
relating thereto shall be in force.

ARTICLE 168.
The army is not a deliberative body. It shall not
assemble except by order of the legitimate authority; it
shall not address petitions except in the interest of its
better service and morals and in accordance with the
laws governing the same.

ARTICLE 1 69.
Persons in the military service shall not be depriv-
ed of their rank, honors and pensions except in the
cases and manner pointed out by law.

ARTICLE 170.
Courts Martial or Military Tribunals shall take
cognizance, under the laws of the Military penal Code,
of all offenses commited by persons in the active ser-
vice of the army, and in regard to tho said service.

ARTICLE 171.
The law may organize and establish a national mi-
litia force.



— 48 —



TITLE XVII,

OF ELECTIONS.



Abstract. — Election of municipal Councilors and Deputies of
Deparlraents. — Of Electors and Representatives —Of Presi-
dent and Vice-President.— Rules for orgiinizing the two Hou-
ses. —Territorial division for the election of Representatives, —
Limitation of electoral right. — Judges of inquiry.

ARTICLE 172.

All the citizens shall elect directlj the municipal
Councilors and the Deputies to the Assemblies of the
Departments.

ARTICLE 173.
All citizens who may know how to read and write
or who have an aimual revenue of five hundred
dollars, or who own immovable property to the value
of one thousand five hundred dollars, may vote for
electors, and shall elect directly the Representatives.

ARTICLE 174.
The electors shall vote for the President and Vicc-
President of the Republic.

ARTICLE 175.
The Senators shall be elected by the Assemblies of
the Departments ; but in no case shall members of the
said Assemblies be elected who may have belonged
thereto within one year of the date of election.

ARTICLE 176.

There shall be one elector for each one thousand
inhabitants.

There shall also be one elector for each district
that may contain less than one thousand inhabitants.

ARTICLE 177.
The Electoral Assemblies shall be renewed at each
presidential election, and the legitimate members



— 49 —

thereof shall not be deprived of the right of exercis-
ing their functions unless their rights of citizenship
have been suspended or forfeited by judicial decree

ARTICLE 178.

Each Department shall be divided into as many
electoral districts as it may be entitled to Represen-
tatives, and eacli district sliall elect one Represen-
tative.

The law shall make provision for dividing the De-
partments as provided for in the preceding paragraph,
and in the absence of such provision, the Government
shall provide for the same.

Municipal districts containing more than fifty
thousand inhabitants shall be constituted electoral dis-
tricts and shall elect one or more Representatives
according to their population.

In case the fractions of population over and above
the number necessary for a Representative, shall,
when added together, amount to more than twenty-five
thousand inhabitants, they shall elect one aditional
Representative. The law shall fix the rules for the
election of the said additional members.

ARTICLE 179.
The right of suffrage shall be exercised as a consti-
tutional function. The person who votes or elects does
not thereby impose any obligation on the candidate,
nor does he confide any trust to the officer elect.

ARTICLE 180.

There shall be judges of inquiry, v^ested with
equity jurisdiction, who shall be empowered to de-
cide all questions concerning the validity or nullity of
election records, concerning the elections themselves,
or the particular votes cast thereat.

These judges shall be responsible for their deci-
sions, and they shall be appointed in the manner and
for the term provided by law.

4



— 50 —

ARTICLE 181.

The law shall provide for all matters relating to
elections and the judicial inquiry thereof and it shall
make the functions of each independent of the other:
it shall define the crimes hy which the freedom of
elections or the truthfulness of their returns are im-
paired, and it shall prescribe the proper penalties
therefor,

TITLE XVIII.

OP THE ADMINISTRATION OP THE DEPARTMENTS AND
MUNICIPAL DITRICTS.

Abstract. — I. Territorial division of the Departments. — II.
Assemblies of the Dt^parlments. How composed. Their po-
wers. — Property of the Departments. — Their estimates of
revenues and expenses. Revision of the acts of the A.ssem-
blies,— HI. Governors; their term of office; their powers.— In-
compatibility. — IV. Corporations and mayors: their functions.
V. Administration of the Department of Panama.

ARTICLE 182.

For the convenience of the public service, the De
partments shall be divided into Provinces, and the
latter into municipal districts.

ARTICLE 183.

Each Department shall contain an administrative
body to be denominated a department Assembly,


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