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Unjustly Detained Colombian Activist Freed from Jail
Rights Group Welcomes Release of Martin Sandoval, Calls for Freedom of Other Activists
WASHINGTON - May 14 - Human Rights First hails the release from jail yesterday of renowned Colombian human rights defender Martin Sandoval after six months of unjust detention. His release confirms that the criminal investigation against him was baseless and should never have been initiated.
"Prosecutors have it exactly backwards. Instead of bringing trumped-up charges against human rights defenders such as Martin Sandoval, officials should recognize that these activists strengthen Colombian democracy," said Andrew Hudson, Senior Associate at Human Rights First. "Now that the authorities have recognized that Sandoval is innocent, they should turn their attention to the long list of other activists locked-up without due cause."
In a recent report Human Rights First documented a broad pattern of baseless prosecutions of human rights defenders in Colombia, involving lengthy trials and incarcerations. Other activists currently in detention include Carmelo Agamez in Sincelejo and Andres Gil and Miguel Gonzalez in Bucaramanga.
Sandoval was accused of rebellion and of supporting the terrorist guerilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Eleven other community leaders were released at the same time as Sandoval. Sandoval is President of the Permanent Committee of Human Rights (CPDH) in Arauca and has a long record of exposing arbitrary detention, forced displacement, and extrajudicial executions. He was detained on November 4, 2008, in a joint operation involving the national intelligence service (DAS) and the Prosecutor's judicial police (CTI) on the orders of the 1st Specialist Prosecutor's Unit in Cucuta.
In February 2009, Human Rights First released In the Dock and Under the Gun: Baseless Prosecutions of Human Rights Defenders in Colombia,a comprehensive report which documented the widespread use of malicious criminal prosecutions and arbitrary detention to silence Colombia human rights activists.
For further information contact Andrew Hudson email@example.com +1 212 845 5278
- Read Human Rights First's latest report In the Dock and Under the Gun: Baseless Prosecutions of Human Rights Defenders in Colombia
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