Alert Issued: January 22, 2010
Help avoid seven years of unjust detention for Colombian activist Gabriel Gonzalez who continues to endure unjust and baseless prosecution for purported association with FARC guerilla forces.
Gonzalez was the recipient of Human Rights First’s annual human rights award in October 2009, and at that time met with numerous policymakers in Washington who supported him.
A recent Los Angeles Times editorial highlighted Gonzalez’s case.
TAKE ACTION NOW to urge members of the U.S. government to stand up for him once again and make sure that real justice – affirming his innocence and letting his work on behalf of political prisoners in Colombia – be done.
Read the Los Angeles Times editorial about Gabriel Gonzalez:
More about Gabriel Gonzalez:
Subject: Colombian Activist Again Imperiled by Baseless Charges
I write to express my concern about the baseless prosecution of Colombian activist Gabriel Gonzalez .
I am aware that members of your department also met with Gabriel and I wanted to draw your attention to a recent Los Angeles Times editorial  about his case. Gabriel has been the victim of a baseless criminal prosecution alleging his membership in the FARC guerrilla forces. When he testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (convened by Chair McGovern) and met with your office in October 2009 he had already been detained for 15 months, acquitted and then convicted again on the same specious charges.
Now the Colombian Supreme Court has denied the admissibility of Gabriel’s final request for an extraordinary remedy. Gabriel faces the prospect of serving another 7 years of unjust detention.
I am alarmed that the Colombian Inspector-General’s office (procuraduria) has spearheaded the campaign to put Gabriel back in prison. USAID administers approximately $3 million of annual aid to this institution. I believe that the U.S. government should be levering this aid to ensure much better performance and to ensure that the Inspector General intervenes consistently to recommend the closure of specious cases rather than appealing baseless convictions.
I urge you to express your concern about Gabriel’s case to the Colombian Inspector-General’s office and the Prosecutor-General’s office (fiscalia) (as expressed in the 2007 State department human rights report) . Gabriel’s case number is 68001-3104-008-2006-00179-01 (NI 061138) (Casacion No 32,145). I understand that Gabriel will file another appeal before the Colombian courts shortly and once filed I hope that you will contact these two institutions to urge them to acquiesce to Gabriel’s legal motions and put an end to the legal proceedings.
Gabriel’s case is just the tip of the iceberg – as Human Rights First documented in its February 2009 report  the use of specious criminal investigations to silence activists is widespread in Colombia. Gabriel’s case demonstrates the need for systemic reform.
I urge you to make sure that U.S. aid to the Colombia prosecutor general’s office is used to ensure that a unit in Bogotá, such as the humanitarian affairs unit, coordinates the review of all investigations against human rights defenders. (The human rights unit plays a similar role in relation to forced disappearance investigations). Such a review would close specious investigations promptly and would deter regional prosecutors from bringing trumped-up charges in the first place. U.S. assistance should be used to guarantee due process rights for human rights activists.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. I will continue to monitor this case closely.