Liliany Obando is Free! Take urgent action to protect her life
At 8.30pm on 1st March 2012, Liliany Obando, Colombian trade unionist, academic and human rights defender, was freed after being detained for more than 3 years and 6 months in Buen Pastor Prison, Bogota. A crowd of Colombian and international supporters, including members of a JFC delegation, awaited her at the prison gates.
Liliany had been held in “preventative detention” since 8th August 2008 falsely accused of “rebellion” on the basis of evidence ruled inadmissible in a separate case. Her legal process suffered severe delays incurred by the authorities and the Colombian legal period for pre-trial detention expired in April last year. Ms. Obando’s legal team repeatedly filed for her release on this basis, and on 29th February 2012, the Superior Tribunal of Bogota finally upheld their appeal.
Despite her release, the spurious legal case against Ms. Obando continues. Her security situation also remains of utmost concern, as she continues to be branded a terrorist. In particular, an El Tiempo newspaper article on 1st March describes her as “Liliany Obando of the FARC”, an allegation which puts her life in grave danger.
Frances O’Grady, Deputy General Secretary of the TUC, who was present at Liliany’s release, said “this is a step towards ending one injustice of so many against trade unionists in Colombia. The charges against Ms. Obando must be dropped and she must now be provided with due protection”. In meetings with the Colombian government and the UK Embassy in Colombia the JFC delegation requested that she be provided with urgent protection measures.
Please add your voice to make sure Liliany gets the protection she needs urgently - Send this message to the Colombian Ambassador in the UK.
I am writing to ask for the urgent protection of Ms. Liliany Obando, Colombian academic, trade unionist and human rights defender and to an end to the false accusations against her.
As you will be aware Ms. Obando was detained for more than 3 years and 6 months in Buen Pastor Prison Bogota, without being convicted of any crime. On 1st March she was released from prison, however a spurious legal process continues against her, on the basis of highly questioned evidence ruled "inadmissible" in a separate case.
I am concerned that this false judicial case has generated unfounded and dangerous accusations against Ms. Obando. In particular, a 1st March "El Tiempo" newspaper article publically describes her as "Liliany Obando of the FARC", a false allegation which violates the presumption of innocence and puts her life at risk. I am also aware of several previous cases where government critics have been assassinated shortly after their release from prison, such as that of former political prisoner and Colombian sociologist Alfredo Correa killed on 17th September 2004. I therefore have grave concerns for Ms. Obando’s safety and urge that the case against her be closed and that the Colombian authorities provide the protection measures necessary to safeguard her life.
Your government claims to be committed to improving human rights. If this is so, at the very least the state must provide the requested protection measures for those human rights defenders and trade unionists whose cases are highlighted. The Colombian authorities must also put an end to the false judicial cases that put their lives in further danger.
I look forward to progress in this matter,