Britain’s Trades Union Congress (TUC) has approved a resolution at its annual congress calling on the Colombian government to ensure adequate conditions in the case of the peace negotiator and congress member-elect for the FARC political party, Jesús Santrich, who was arrested in April this year.
A recent delegation of the Justice for Colombia Peace Monitor, which included British trade union leaders, recently visited Santrich in the La Picota prison in Bogotá. In a statement on 21 August 2018, the delegates said they ‘were concerned to observe that he has been in isolation and denied basic equipment which helps him manage his lack of sight’.
Below you can read a Justice for Colombia press release on the TUC resolution.
Press release on resolution of the TUC in support of Jesús Santrich
Today, Wednesday September 12, the Congress of the British Trades Union Congress, which represents 5.6 million workers, unanimously approved an emergency resolution requesting guarantees for peace negotiator and congressman-elect Jesús Santrich.
The arrest of Santrich – the FARC congress member-elect arrested on April 9 – has been rejected by union leaders and British parliamentarians. Last month a delegation visited Santrich at La Picota prison in Bogota and spoke to him directly.
During the presentation of the resolution, several trade union leaders called for justice to be observed and improvement in Santrich’s humanitarian conditions. During the speeches, trade union leader Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF and chair of Justice for Colombia, said that Santrich ‘deserves our support, our recognition’.
The chair of the POA prison officers trade union, Mark Fairhurst, criticised prison conditions and said that Santrich ‘must be in Congress’. The resolution, which was recommended for approval by the TUC’s executive General Council, was unanimously passed by hundreds of delegates.
The resolution says:
Last week the health of Jesus Santrich, a leader of the FARC and Colombian congress member-elect, who is being held in in La Picota maximum security jail pending extradition to the US on trumped-up charges, rapidly deteriorated. He was not taken to hospital nor was he seen by a trusted doctor and his lawyers had to take him medication. Santrich, who is also blind, is being held in solitary confinement, has only limited access to visitors and has been denied access to audio books. Congress believes that access to medical treatment is a basic human right and calls on the Colombian authorities to immediately ensure he has safe medical treatment, to provide for his specific access needs and to move him to more adequate conditions.
Neither Santrich nor his lawyers have been given details of the alleged evidence against him nor have the US authorities provided evidence. His arrest and detention, as well as attempts to weaken the transitional justice system, pose a direct threat to the agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC. Congress calls on the TUC to write to the Colombian government urging them to comply with their obligations under the agreement.