British MPs and trade unionists sign letter in support of Jesús Santrich

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