Monday, January 28, 2013

judicialización

judicialización/ montaje judicial = malicious prosecution on trumped up charges

These have been increasingly used against human rights defenders in Colombia in the past few years.  The most notable case is that of David Ravelo, as described in the letter below.

North American Committee for the Defense of David Ravelo
10 de Enero 2013
                             
                                                                            Sr. Eduardo Montealegre,
Fiscal General de Colombia, Fiscalía General,               
Bogotá, Colombia,


Estimado Sr. Montealegre,
We are members of a delegation of U.S, Canadian, and German citizens who visited
Colombiafor a week beginning November 25, 2012. Although our fundamental concern
in regard to your country is the war and terrible suffering there, our visit was
aimed at solidarity with David Ravelo, (cédula de ciudadanía 13.887.558),
currently held in La Picota prison in Bogota. Mr. Ravelo was convicted December
11, 2012of aggravated homicide in the case of Barrancabermejamayoral candidate
David Nuñez Cala, killed in 1991. He was sentenced to 18 years, three months in
prison.
Prompting this letter is our realization, indeed our certainty, that the
prosecution and judicial processes that led to Mr. Ravelo’s conviction do not
meet internationally recognized standards of fairness and justice. We base our
view on information gained before, during, and following our visit to Colombia.
Our reasoning is as follows:
1.       Mr. Ravelo was denied due judicial process. Prior to his conviction he
had already spent over two years in prison. At his trial there was no
opportunity for evidence on his behalf to be presented; 30 defense witnesses
were prevented from testifying.

2.       Testimony provided by two prosecution witnesses was self-serving. They
were two former paramilitary leaders convicted of massacres. The testimony they
offered against David Ravelo facilitated reductions of their sentences under
terms of Law 975, Law of Justice and Peace. The sentence of one of them, Mario
Jaimes Mejía, alias “El Panadero,” was reduced from 40 to no more than eight
years.  Another witness at Mr. Ravelo’s trial testified that the two principal
prosecution witnesses had tried to bribe him.


3.       We suspect that the principal motivation for prosecuting and convicting
David Ravelo was political retribution. Mr. Ravelo, a leader of the National
Movement of Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE, by its initials in Spanish), the
Regional Corporation for Defense of Human Rights (CREDHOS), and other human
rights organizations, is acknowledged and respected for his commitment to
defending human rights in the Barrancabermejaregion. In fact, his efforts
brought public attention to paramilitaries, police, and members of the national
army suspected of human rights abuses and thereby contributed to justice being
applied. Mario Jaimes Mejía had been convicted in part because of David Ravelo’s
efforts. Ravelo took the lead in publicizing ties between ex - President Alvaro
Uribe and paramilitary groups.


4.       The prosecutor in Mr. Ravelo’s case was WilliamPacheco Granados who had
served as police lieutenant in Armeniain 1992. He was dismissed from that post
because the year before he helped arrange for Guillermo Hurtado Parra’s forced
disappearance. Under Colombian law (Article 76 of Decree 261/2000), that crime
permanently disqualifies him from holding any public office, including, of
course, that of public prosecutor. We hold that David Ravelo’s conviction is
invalid because of this and other judicial and prosecutorial irregularities.


5.       Members of David Ravelo’s family have received multiple death threats
and been intimidated in other ways. His associates in the CREDHOS organization
have also been threatened.


6.       David Ravelo’s case is worrying on other accounts. The attorney general
in Barrancabermejain April 2009 determined not to prosecute David Ravelo. In
response, jurisdiction in his case was re-assigned to the national Attorney
General in Bogotawhere prosecution was resumed. Initial charges against Ravelo
of “rebellion” were dropped on discovery that in 1995 he had been absolved of
that charge (after two years in prison) and that reinstatement was impossible.
Conveniently enough, the charge against David Ravelo switched to “aggravated
homicide.” Six months elapsed between the end of David Ravelo’s trial
proceedings in May, 2012 and public notice of his conviction. Almost four weeks
elapsed between November 16, 2012, the date officially assigned to his
conviction, and December 11, 2012, the date when Mr. Ravelo and his legal
defenders officially learned of his conviction.


7.       We would remind your office that Colombia’s Constitutional Courtunder
its decision T-590/98 has ruled that because defenders of human rights are
vulnerable to attacks and abuse within the national context, the state must
assume responsibility for protecting them.

8.       We are encouraged by international calls for justice in David Ravelo’s
case.


·         Since 2000, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission has extended
“precautionary measures” for the protection of members of CREDHOS and its
directors, including David Ravelo.


·         In November, 2010 British Parliamentarians called for his release from
prison.


·         In March 2011, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the
Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, and the Special Rapporteur
on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, issued a joint
communication to the Colombian Government expressing their concern that
“criminalization of David Ravelo occurs in the context of increasing
prosecutions against human rights defenders in Colombia”.


·         Irish solidarity activists visited Ravelo in prison in November, 2012.
One of them, Northern Ireland Assembly member John McCallister, commented that,
“David Ravelo is an admirable man, dedicated to the defense of human rights. I
am horrified that a human rights defender can be convicted in a case led by a
prosecutor implicated in crimes against humanity.” McAllister joined 30 British
and Irish parliamentarians, lawyers, and labor leaders in issuing a statement
condemning David Rabelo’s conviction.

·         On 5 December 2012, the Inter- American Commission of Human Rights
condemned repression against human rights defenders in Colombiaincluding Mr.
Ravelo.


·         On December 10, 2012, 13 European human rights groups sent a
communicationto your office denouncing David Ravelo’s conviction.
http://www.fidh.org/Colombia-International-12579   Later that month 21 other
human rights, labor, and lawyers’ groups based mainly in the United Statesand
the United Kingdomsent a similar letter to your office.
http://www.colectivodeabogados.org/IMG/pdf/Carta_al_Fiscal_caso_David_Rabelo.pdf

·         On December 10, 2012, your office received a letter from 80 members of
the British Parliament who judged his conviction to be a “serious injustice and
violation of his human rights.” http://prensarural.org/spip/spip.php?article9850

Mr. Montealegre, in view of these considerations we urge upon your office a turn
toward fairness and justice in the case of David Ravelo Crespo. We will be
content with nothing less than Mr. Ravelo’s immediate liberation. Additionally,
our group demands that effective protection be provided for members of Mr.
Ravelo’s family and members of the CREDHOS human rights organization.  Lastly,
we urge that, in accordance with Colombian law,WilliamPacheco Granadosbe removed
from his position as prosecutor within Colombia’s judicial system.


With respect and in hopes that David Ravelo will receive justice, we are,

Sincerely yours,
Tim Bood   (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada)
Mark Burton   (Denver, Colorado, USA)
John Lugo (New Haven, Connecticut, USA)
Jim Norris (Carson, California, USA)
Stan Smith (Chicago, Illinois, USA)
Joel Stangle  (Iphofen, Bavaria, Germany)
Kay Tillow (Louisville, Kentucky, USA)
Walter Tillow (Louisville, Kentucky, USA)
Tom Whitney (South Paris, Maine, USA)

Copies sent to:

María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar, Foreign Minister
Juan Manuel Santos Calderon, President of Colombia
Angelino Garzón, Vice President of Colombia
Volmar AntonioPérez Ortiz, Defensor of the People
Germán Vargas Lleras, Minister of Justice and Interior
María Paulina RiverosDueñas, Interior Ministry, Human Rights Program Dr.
Alejandro Ordoñez Maldonado, Procurador Generalde la Nación

Carlos Urrutia Valenzuela, Colombian Ambassador to United States
P. Michael McKinley, U. S. Ambassador to Colombia, 


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