For Immediate Release: July 14, 2009
(New York, July 14, 2009) The Colombian Attorney General has ordered a criminal investigation of Sucre prosecutor Rodolfo Martinez Mendoza for alleged corruption in connection with his baseless prosecution of renowned activist Carmelo Agamez. While Agamez remains unjustly detained, Human Rights First hopes that the Attorney General’s decision to reassign the case to a prosecutor in Bogota will herald his imminent release.
“We congratulate the Attorney General for increasingly recognizing the widespread nature of baseless prosecutions against Colombian human rights defenders,” said Andrew Hudson, Senior Associate at Human Rights First. “We urge that Agamez and many other defenders be promptly released from unjust detention and that the trumped-up charges against them be dropped.”
In reassigning the prosecutor by way of a formal resolution, the Attorney General repeatedly cited Human Rights First’s concerns about the lack of impartiality in the investigation against Agamez. Human Rights First had previously called on the Attorney General to appoint a new, objective, prosecutor to the case and to release Agamez from detention. The persecution against Agamez was included in a recent report by Human Rights First, In the Dock and Under the Gun: Baseless Prosecutions of Human Rights Defenders in Colombia, which documented for the first time the extensive use of malicious criminal investigation and arbitrary detention to silence human rights activists.
Carmelo Agamez was charged with consorting with right-wing paramilitary leaders and has been detained in Sucre since November 2008. He is Technical Secretary of the Movement of Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE) and has exposed alleged links between local public officials and paramilitaries and urged the prosecution of paramilitary leaders in the region. A court recently found that the prosecutor breached Agamez’s due process and defense rights by failing to inform him of the charges against him.
For more information contact Andrew Hudson firstname.lastname@example.org +1 212 845 5278