JFC Delegation Statement on Martin Sandoval

Justice For Colombia News | on: Monday, 18 May 2009

Members of the recent JFC delegation to Colombia have issued a statement welcoming the release of Colombian political prisoner Martin Sandoval whom the delegation visited in jail during last month's trip to Colombia. The statement accuses the Colombian authorities of jailing those that work to highlight human rights abuses and calls on the Colombian regime to release all political prisoners and end their practice of 'criminalising' those that oppose them. The full statement is reproduced here.

JFC Delegation Statement

We, the British members of a Justice for Colombia delegation to Colombia in April 2009 made up of Members of Parliament and trade unionists, are extremely pleased to hear the news that human rights defender Martin Sandoval, president of the CPDH human rights organisation in Arauca has been freed after spending over 6 months unjustly detained in prison. Mr. Sandoval is just one of many political prisoners in Colombia, falsely accused of 'rebellion' simply for carrying out human rights and trade union work.

Some of us visited Martin in prison in Arauca in early April, as well as a number of women political prisoners in Buen Pastor Prison in Bogotá, and saw for ourselves the dire situation faced by political prisoners in Colombia. Their only crime appears to be their political opposition to the Colombian Government, and for this, they often face long waits in overcrowded and dangerous prisons, with a lack of access to due process or a fair and prompt trial.

The release of Mr. Sandoval only further proves our belief that he was imprisoned as retaliation for his work to defend human rights and expose the abuses committed by Colombian state security forces. The fact that he was released so soon after a high-profile international visit only goes to show that more international pressure is needed to be put on the Colombian Government in order to highlight this grave situation.

Although Martin has been released, we know there are many more still waiting for their day of freedom. We will continue to pressure the Colombian Government to release all political prisoners and to stop criminalising those that democratically oppose them.

Katherine Craig, Christian Khan Solicitors and Vice Chair of the Haldane Society

Ian Davidson MP, Member of Parliament for Glasgow

David Drever: President of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS);

Simon Dubbins, Director of International Relations of Unite the Union and member of the Executive of the European TUC;

Sally Hunt, General Secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), also a member of both the TUC Executive and TUC General Council where she is spokesperson on international relations;

Peter Kilfoyle MP, Member of Parliament for Liverpool, former Government Minister;

Andy Love MP, Member of Parliament for Edmonton, Parliamentary Private Secretary;

James McGovern MP: Member of Parliament for Dundee;

Sandra Osborne MP: Member of Parliament for Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock, Member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee;

Stephanie Peacock: Member of the Labour Party National Executive Committee;

Mick Shaw: President of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU);

James Sheridan MP: Member of Parliament for Paisley and Renfrewshire North;

Tony Woodhouse: Chair of the National Executive Committee of Unite the Union.

See also Colombian Political Prisoner Martin Sandoval Free At Last!

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