10 December 2013
On Human Rights Day, we call for justice for David Ravelo Crespo, a human rights defender and member of our Colombian partner, who has been sentenced to 18 years imprisonment without a fair trial.
Mr Ravelo from our partner organisation, CREDHOS, has been accused of murder based on demobilised paramilitaries’ testimonies, one of whom was linked to a plot to kill him.
Mr Ravelo has been defending human rights for the last 30 years, denouncing many human rights crimes including forced disappearances and displacement, and extra-judicial executions.
A call for justice
We express our concern, alongside other international organisations, about alleged wrongdoings during the proceedings against him.
Together, with our partners ABColombia and OIDHACO, we call for justice as we believe the guarantees of due process, including the right to self-defence, have not been respected.
The lawyers of Mr Ravelo argue that these irregularities have undermined the defence and question the legitimacy of the sentence against him.
One of the many criticisms of the judicial process is that the case prosecutor, William Pacheco, has been investigated and sanctioned for his involvement in a forced disappearance of a youth when he was a police lieutenant.
According to Colombian law, anyone who has been found guilty of committing such an offence is not eligible to hold a post as prosecutor.
An impartial standpoint
On 4 September 2013, the British lawyer, Kirsty Brimelow QC, Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales presented an amicus curiae – an unbiased advisor - in defence of the right to due process of David Ravelo, in an informal meeting with the chair of a Colombian court.
The purpose of an amicus is to assist the court in an impartial way. This amicus was endorsed by the Human Rights Committee of the Law Society, the Colombian Caravana UK Lawyers Groups, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and other lawyers with an interest in the human rights situation in Colombia.
As stated by Kirsty Brimelow QC: ‘The problems in this case affect not only David Ravelo, but also the working of due process in Colombia and its compliance with international law, which serves to assist in the administration of justice’.
According to the amicus curiae, ‘Conviction of Mr Ravelo was against the weight of the evidence that in this case proved his innocence.’
We stand by Mr Ravelo and insist in his right to a fair trial, as a fundamental basis for the rule of law.
Find out more
You can read more on Mr Ravelo’s case here.