Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The following appeal is from the Human Rights First group. Molly last reported on the case of Principe Gonzalez last October when the US government was threatening to deny him a visit to come and speak in the USA. He did, in fact, get the visa, but now the Colombian government is continuing its campaign to silence him via trumped up charges of being a member of the FARC. Here's the story of what is happening now.
Help Colombian Activist Threatened with Jail:‏
Human rights activist Gabriel Gonzalez is facing prison for bogus charges.

You can help.
Fighting to free political prisoners was Principe Gabriel Gonzalez' life's work - until he became one.

The Colombian government brought trumped-up charges against him to intimidate him and to send a message to other human rights leaders like him. Human Rights First, with your support, worked to free Gabriel from prison so he could continue his vital human rights advocacy in Colombia.

But Gabriel again faces 7 more years in prison, and he needs our help to advocate on his behalf. Stand up for him!

Human Rights First awarded Gabriel our annual Human Rights Award last October - and we brought him to Washington to testify before Congress and to meet with government officials we are now urging to act on his behalf. Help show that public support is behind him.

We have pledged to stand by Gabriel in his struggle to advance human rights in the face of threats and intimidation. Now is the time to deliver on that promise.
On behalf of Gabriel, thank you.
Sharon Kelly Communications Director
P.S.: Check out his story covered in an LA Times editorial last week.
Please go to this link to read more background information about this case and to send the following letter to United states officials asking that they intervene on behalf of Principe Gonzalez.
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.

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