The following letter was published in the Morning Star newspaper on 13 November 2018 and in The Guardian on 19 November 2018. In the letter, MPs and trade union leaders in the UK express their support for the detained FARC peace negotiator and congress member-elect Jesús Santrich, who has been in prison since early-April despite an absence of evidence against him.
MPs and trade unionists in the UK support the Colombian peace process
We are concerned at the recent admission by Colombia’s attorney general that his office does not have evidence against the FARC peace negotiator and congressman-elect Jesús Santrich, who has been imprisoned since 9 April 2018.
A recent delegation of British MPs, trade union leaders and lawyers visited Mr Santrich in his cell and was shocked at the conditions. Due to poor conditions and a 41-day hunger strike, Mr Santrich’s health has deteriorated sharply.
Mr Santrich was a key negotiator during the 2012-2016 peace dialogues between the Colombian government and the FARC, which has since reformed as a political party and entered the Colombian congress. In September, the TUC unanimously passed an emergency resolution calling Mr Santrich’s detention ‘a direct threat to the agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC’.
Other areas of the peace process suffer from slow or non-implementation. The most conflict-affected and poorest communities have yet to receive any benefits of the agreement. Congressional changes to the truth and justice chapter could allow some of the conflict’s worst human rights abusers to evade justice.
Even more alarmingly, around 400 social activists have been murdered since 2016. People working to implement the peace process are routinely killed. In addition, around 80 FARC former combatants and at least 20 close family members have been murdered.
We ask the British government to support Colombia in implementing the agreement and to address the human rights catastrophe affecting the country. We also urge the Colombian authorities to guarantee Jesús Santrich’s fundamental rights.
Jo Stevens MP – Labour Party, Cardiff Central
Catherine West MP – Labour Party, Hornsey and Wood Green
Madeline Moon MP – Labour Party, Bridgend
Clive Efford MP – Labour Party, Eltham
Ellie Reeves MP – Labour Party, Lewisham West and Penge
Lord John Monks – Labour Party, House of Lords
John McCallister – Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission
Frances O’Grady – TUC general secretary
Len McCluskey – Unite the Union general secretary
Mick Whelan – ASLEF general secretary
Sally Hunt – UCU general secretary and TUC president
Ian Lawrence – NAPO general secretary
Manuel Cortes – TSSA general secretary
Tim Roache – GMB general secretary
Christine Blower – NEU international secretary
Horace Trubridge – MU general secretary
Chris Keates – NASUWT general secretary
Nick Crook – UNISON head of international relations
Joe Simpson – POA deputy general secretary
Mark Fairhurst – POA chair
John Metcalfe – ASLEF executive committee
Steve Cavalier – Thompsons Solicitors chief executive
Claire Sullivan – CSP director of employment relations and union services
Tony Woodhouse – Unite the Union chair
Kate Osborne – Unite the Union national executive committee
Ronnie Draper – BFAWU general secretary
Kevin Courtney – NEU joint-general secretary
Paddy Lillis – USDAW general secretary
Mike Clancy – Prospect general secretary
Dave Ward – CWU general secretary