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Joint Declaration: International organisations express their concern on the fifth anniversary of the detention of David Ravelo Crespo, a prominent Colombian human rights defender

​23 September 2015

14 September 2015 marked five years since the distinguished human rights defender,David Ravelo Crespo, member of the Regional Corporation for the Defense ofHuman Rights (CREDHOS) from the city of Barrancabermeja (Colombia) wasdetained. Non-governmental organizations and international networks againhereby reiterate our concern over the lack of due process in this case whichresulted in a condemnatory sentence of 220 months imprisonment.

We recall that the human rights defender David Ravelo was arrested andimprisoned on 14 September 2010, accused of masterminding the 1991 murder ofDavid Núñez Cala, public official of Barrancabermeja. In light of sentences infirst1 and second instances2 condemning him to 220 monthsin prison (more than18 years), Mr. Ravelo and his lawyers lodged a casationappeal. However, this was declared inadmissible by the Supreme Court of Justicein February 2015. Currently, an application has been filed in theInter-American Human Rights Commission (IACHR) and is in the informationgathering phase.

Amongst the numerous irregularities denounced throughout the process, Mr.Ravelo´s lawyers highlighted the illegitimacy of the public prosecutor who ledthe investigation, Mr William Gildardo Pacheco Granados, who before becoming apublic prosecutor was a Lieutenant in the National Police force of Armenia (Quindío,Colombia). Mr. Pacheco was investigated by the Office of the General ofColombia and subsequently removed from office for his involvement in theforceful disappearance of Guillermo Hurtado Parra in Armenia (Quindío,Colombia), in events which took place in 19913. Later, in November1993, Mr Pacheco was condemned to a year in prison by the Superior MilitaryTribunal. According to Colombian law, these events disqualify him fromexercising any role in the public prosecutor´s office. In light of this situation,and given that Guillermo Hurtado Parra is still missing, on 23 April 2014, acriminal lawsuit was filed against Mr. Pacheco Granados4 and laterthe public prosecutor´s office cited him to make a judicial declaration.5

Mr Ravelo´s defense also denounces that the case against him is primarily basedon statements by two demobilised paramilitaries (Mario Jaimes Mejía alias el“Panadero” and Fremio Sánchez), who were convicted for serious crimes committedin the city of Barrancabermeja (amongst which stand out the massacres on 16 May19986 and 28 February 19997) as a result of incidents denounced Mr.Ravelo himself. Because of these and other denunciations, the twoparamilitaries declared Mr Ravelo a “military target”8. Furthermore,the other accused in the case, Orlando Noguera, denounced in the preparatoryhearing that Mario Jaimer Mejía alias “El Panadero” and Fremio Sánchez “triedto bribe him so that he would accept the charge for the murder of Núñez Calaand blame Mr Ravelo in exchange for benefits under the Justice and Peace law”9.In this regard, we stress that the Prosecutor General's office charged MarioJaimer Mejía alias “El Panadero”, for false testimony, for having accused theex-Congresswoman Aristides Andrade as another author of the homicide whichDavid Ravelo is condemned for. In bringing charges against Jaimes Mejía, thepublic prosecutor cites various statements that – in his judgement – cast doubton the statements given by the ex-paramilitary leader and that “they weresufficient to try him for false testimony”10. The first hearingagainst alias “El Panadero” for false testimony took place on 9 February 2015,the process is now in the trial stage and currently David Ravelo has beenrecognised as a victim in this case.

Since David Ravelo´s detention, national and international NGOs as well asUnited Nations bodies have raised awareness regarding his case and the lack ofdue process by international standards11. This included thepresentation of two amicus curiae12 related to Ravelo´s proceedingsand sentence which, among other considerations, concluded the proceedings nulland, that in any case, David Ravelo should be absolved, since “David Ravelo´ssentence was contrary to the evidence in this case, which demonstrate hisinnocence.” 13

As non-governmental organizations and international networks we have followedup on this case very closely and have expressed on numerous occasions ourconcern for these and other irregularities indicated by Mr. Ravelo´s defenselawyers. As a result, we deeply regret that, in spite of expressing concern onnumerous occasions for the guarantees of due process, including the right to alegitimate defense and a fair trial, the Supreme Court of Justice rejected theAppeal Study requesting the granting of fair and impartial process for thishuman rights defender, including all of the guaranties that up until now havebeen denied.

As a result, we hope that the Colombian justice system will act promptly in theother two legal processes mentioned against Mario Jaimes Mejía and WilliamGildardo Pacheco Granados, and that due process is fully respected. Finally, wecall upon the IACHR to consider the concerns expressed and facilitate the studyof this case.

Abogados sin Fronteras Canadá
Acción de los Cristianos para la Abolición de la tortura (ACAT-France)
ASK! - Grupo de Trabajo Suiza Colombia
Asociación de Solidaridad con Colombia Katio (ASOC- Katio)
Associació Catalana per la Pau
Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales
Christian Aid
Colombia Solidarity Campaign, UK
Comunidad Cristiana de Base Sto. Tomás de Aquino - Comisión Ética Madrid
Colombia Human Rights Committee
Colombian Caravana UK Lawyers Group - International Delegation of Lawyers /Grupo de Abogados del Reino Unido de la Caravana Internacional de Juristas
DIAL – Diálogo Interagencial en Colombia
Front Line Defenders
Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
InspirAction España
International Action for Peace
Justice for Colombia
Justicia por Colombia España
kolko - Menschenrechte für Kolumbien e.V.
Observatorio para la Protección de los Defensores de Derechos Humanos(Organización Mundial contra la Tortura – OMCT y Federación Internacional paralos Derechos Humanos – FIDH)
Oficina Internacional de Derechos Humanos –Acción Colombia (OIDHACO)
Parliamentary Friends of Colombia
Pax Christi International
PBI – Peace Brigades International – Proyecto Colombia
Protection International
Rete Italiana di Solidarietá Colombia Vive!
SoldePaz Pachakuti
Taula Catalana por la Paz y los Derechos Humanos en Colombia
United Steelworkers
War on Want

Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)

kolko - Menschenrechte für Kolumbien e.V.
Greifswalderstr. 4
10405 Berlin
E-mail: mail(a)

1 Página oficial de la rama judicial
2 Vanguardia Liberal: David Ravelo fue condenado a 18 años de prisión porcrimen de Núñez Cala , 6 de diciembre de 2012

3 Procurator Delegate for the defense of Human Rights: Resolution 015 ofJuly 10 1992, Resolution 017 of 22 November 1993, and Resolution 2117 of 15March 1994; Semana: El ‘transformer’, 1 de junio de 2013
4 Penal accusation against William Gildardo Pacheco Granados directed to the ,23 de abril de 2013
5 Notimundo: Comité británico intercede ante la CSJ por el caso del defensor dederechos humanos David Ravelo, 1 de septiembre de 2014
6 El Espectador: Condena por masacre en Barrancabermeja, 8 de noviembre de 2010
7 Agencia Prensa Rural: Tres paramilitares aceptan responsabilidad en lamasacre del 28 de febrero de 1999 en Barrancabermeja, 4 de febrero de 2011
8 Maureen Maya: “Barrancabermeja, Dónde el Amor es la clave” (1), SemanarioVirtual Caja de Herramientas, Corporación Viva la Ciudadanía
9 La Sandunga Films: En medio del Magdalena Medio, 2012Ley de Justicia y Paz oLey 975 de 2005 es el marco jurídico que fue promovido en el marco del procesode desmovilización colectiva de los grupos paramilitares, quienes a cambio deuna serie de condiciones, vieron reducidas sus condenas a un máximo de 8 añosde cárcel.
10 El Espectador: ¿Las mentiras de 'El Panadero'?, 16 de septiembre de 2014
11 Human Rights Council Gabriela Knaul, A/HRC/17/30/Add.1, mayo de 2011.
12 Amicuscuriae (literally friend of the court or friend of the tribunal)consists of presentations by third parties to a litigation, who voluntarilyoffer their opinion regarding a point of law or other related aspect ofaccountability, in order to collaborate with the tribunal in the objectivematerial of a process.
13 Human Rights Committee of the Bar of England and Wales (BHRC), AmicusCuriaebefore the Superior Tribunal of Santander regarding the trial and sentencepassed by the First Penal Court of the Adjunct-Specialized Circuit

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