International Figures Write to Santos: Release Liliany

News from Colombia | on: Tuesday, 9 August 2011

A number of international figures who have met political prisoner and trade unionist Liliany Obando have written to President Juan Manuel Santos on the 3rd anniversary of her unjust imprisonment to demand her release.

Ms Obando continues to be imprisoned despite the fact that the main evidence being used against her has been discredited by the supreme court in a separate case. She has also been moved to a more isolated yard in retaliation for highlighting the abuses committed against prisoners.

The signatories met Liliany while on JFC delegations to Colombia during which some of them also met Juan Manuel Santos.

The text of the letter follows below:


President Juan Manuel Santos

C/o Ambassador to Colombia

Colombian Embassy

3 Hans Crescent



8th August 2011

Dear President Santos,

We are writing to you today, on the 3rd anniversary of the unjust imprisonment of political prisoner Liliany Obando to call for her immediate release.

Ms. Obando was accused of ‘rebellion’ and jailed on 8th August 2008, and has since been held in Buen Pastor Prison Bogota, without being convicted of any crime.

We, the undersigned, have all met Ms Obando during her incarceration and have been following her case closely. She has faced numerous injustices and her case has been characterised by a fundamental lack of due process. She has also been subjected to physical and mental abuse. Ms. Obando’s commitment to defending human rights is clear to us. We believe her ongoing imprisonment is politically motivated, as is the case with so many other critics of the Colombian regime locked up today.

We know that Ms. Obando has been denied house arrest on eight consecutive occasions, despite being a single mother with two young children. We understand Ms. Obando’s legal process has suffered severe delays incurred by the Colombian authorities, and continues to do so. We are also aware that evidence from a separate case that is also being used against Ms. Obando has been ruled inadmissible by the Colombian Supreme Court.

We have written to the Colombian authorities repeatedly regarding these issues, yet we have seen no evidence of action taken by the Colombian State to guarantee Ms. Obando’s fundamental rights.

On this day, three years since her unjust imprisonment, we urge you once more – please release Ms. Obando immediately, as her innocence demands.

We look forward to hearing from you with progress in this matter,

Yours Sincerely,

Stephen Cavalier, CEO, Thompsons Solicitors

Kat Craig, Christian Kahn Solicitors

Luke Crawley, Deputy General Secretary, BECTU

Ian Davidson MP

Ben Davis, International Affairs Director, United Steel Workers of America

Jeremy Dear, former General Secretary, National Union of Journalists

David Drever, President, Educational Institute of Scotland

Simon Dubbins, Director of International Department, Unite the Union

Jeff Ennis, former MP

Ana Gomes MEP

Sam Gurney, Policy Officer TUC and ILO Governing Body Member

Billy Hayes, General Secretary, CWU

Richard Howitt MEP

Glenn Jackson, Executive Committee, Unite the Union

Eric Joyce MP

Jim Kennedy, National Political Officer, UCATT

Peter Kilfoyle, former Minister of Defence

Adam Lee, International Officer, United Steel Workers of America

Andy Love MP

Mark Lyons, Vice Chair, Executive Committee, Unite the Union

Jim McGovern MP

Denise McGuire, President, UNI World Women’s Committee

Sarah Merrill, Parliamentary Officer

Madeleine Moon MP

John O’Neil, Thompsons Solicitors

Sandra Osbourne MP

Stephanie Peacock, NUT member

Jyrki Raina, General Secretary, IMF

Fred Redmond, Vice President, United Steelworkers of America

Ben Richards, International Officer, Unite the Union

Mark Rowlinson, Counsel, United Steel Workers Canada

Jim Sheridan MP

Joanna Stevens, Thompsons Solicitors

Agnes Tolmie, Executive Committee, Unite the Union

Spencer Wood, OH Parsons Solicitors

Tony Woodhouse, Chair, Executive Committee, Unite the Union


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