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Urgent Interventions

On Human Rights Day, International Organizations deplore the conviction on appeal of David Ravelo Crespo

Webelieve that respect for the guarantees of due process, including the right toa legitimate defense are fundamental to the Rule of Law. According to thedenunciation such guarantees have been repeatedly violated throughout thistrial. According to David Ravelo ́s lawyers, these irregularities haveundermined the defense and call into question the legitimacy of his convictionin both instances of the process.

On the4th of September 2013, the Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC) of England andWales presented an amicus curiae[1] report in relation to David Ravelo ́s trial andconviction before the High Court (el Tribunal Superior) of Santander(Colombia). The amicus curiae was endorsed by theLaw Society`s Human Rights Committee, the Colombian Caravana Lawyer’s Group,the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and other lawyers interested in thereality of human rights in Colombia. According to Kirsty Brimelow QC, presidentof the BHRC, the irregularities in this case not only effect David Ravelo, butalso impact the exercise of due process in Colombia and its adherence tointernational law, the purpose of which is to promote the administration ofjustice.

Inaddition to the variety of irregularities denounced during the trial, DavidRavelo ́s lawyers have proven that the illegitimacy of the prosecutor whodirected the investigation. The prosecutor William Pacheco Granados, of the22nd Prosecution Office in the National Anti-Terrorism Unit, was a lieutenantwith the National Police in Armenia (Quindío, Colombia) prior to becoming a prosecutor.Mr. Pacheco Granados was investigated by the Attorney General of InternalAffairs (Procuraduría) andsubsequently removed from office because of his supposed involvement in theforced disappearance of Guillermo Hurtado Parra in Armenia (Quindío, Colombia)in 1991[2].Later, in November 1993, Mr. Pacheco Granados was sentenced to a year in prisonby a Superior Military Court (TribunalSuperior Militar). According to Colombian legislation, these convictionsdisqualify him from holding any position in the State Prosecution Office (Fiscalía)[3].

In linewith this, the amicus curiae concludes that the trial is invalid because of the role that prosecutor William GildardoPacheco Granados ́ played, adding that in any case, David Ravelo should beabsolved given the fact that “Mr. Ravelo was convicted despite the weight ofevidence that in this case demonstrated his innocence”[4].

SinceDavid Ravelo has been detained, national and international agencies have calledattention to his case and the lack of compliance with national andinternational standards of due process. In particular, in March 2011, theUnited Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers,Gabriela Knaul, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation ofHuman Rights Defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, sent a joint communiqué to theColombian government following David Ravelo ́s arrest in which they expressedtheir concern that «the criminalization of Mr. Ravelo Crespo falls within a context ofincreased cases of prosecution against human rights defenders in Colombia»[5].

Asnon-governmental organizations and international networks, we will continue tomonitor the next phases of this process and the eventual appeal (casación). We urge that appropriatemeasures are taken to guarantee the fundamental rights of David Ravelo and toaddress the irregularities that have been denounced since hisimprisonment so that the trial is compliant with Colombian law and internationalstandards of due process.


- ABColombia

- ASK! - ArbeitsgruppeSchweiz-Kolumbien

- Associació Catalana per la Pau – ACP

- Asociación Paz con Dignidad

- Christian Aid

- Colombian Caravana UK Lawyers Group

- Comité Oscar Romero

- Cooperacció

- Front Line Defenders

- Iniciativa Solidaria Internacionalista

- Justicia por Colombia España

- Kolko - Derechos Humanos por Colombia


- Observatory for the Protection of Human RightsDefenders (a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture - OMCT andthe International Federation for Human Rights - FIDH)

- Oficina Internacional de Derechos HumanosAcción Colombia – OIDHACO

- Peace Brigades International - PBI - ProyectoColombia

- Rete Italiana di solidarietá Colombia Vive!

- Solicitors’ International Human Rights Group -SIHRG

- Taula Catalana per la Pau i el Drets Humans aColòmbia

- United Church of Christ Justice and WitnessMinistries

- United Steelworkers - USW

- US Office on Colombia - USOC

[1] Amicus curiae (literally “friend of the court” or “friend of the tribunal”) isinformation offered by third persons not party to a case who voluntarily offertheir opinion with regard to some point of law or other important relatedaspect in order to assist the court in the resolution of the case.

[2] Attorney General of Internal Affairs,Representative for the Defense of Human Rights (La Procuraduria Delegada para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos):Resolution 015 of July 10th 1992, Resolution 017 of November 22nd 1993.

[3] Last 23rd of April, a criminal complaintwas filed against William Gildardo Pacheco Granados for his responsibility in acase of forced disappearance. He subsequently resigned from his role asprosecutor in July 2013. While he was still prosecutor, Pacheco ordered thatDavid Ravelo be linked to this case and created the formal accusation. Thedefending attorneys have denounced that among other irregularities, Pachecoclosed the investigative stage of the case without accepting the majority ofthe evidence presented by the defense. Citing laws that prohibit persons withdisabilities or criminal convictions from exercising positions in the StateProsecution Office (fiscalía) or inthe judicial branch, the letter of appeal submitted by the defense argues thatthe entire court process is invalid given Pacheco ́s legal inability to performas prosecutor, the active role he adopted in David Ravelo ́s case and hisfailure to investigate all of the favorable and unfavorable elements of thecase. It highlights the gravity of the fact that a person accused of committinga crime against humanity is in charge of a process against a human rightsdefender and the lack of objectivity this entails. The appeal also referencesthe numerous procedural and evidentiary irregularities that took place duringthe trial. With respect to these procedural irregularities, the defensehighlights the fact that the current process amounts to a reformulation ofprevious charges that David Ravelo was already absolved of in first and secondinstance in 1995. Additionally, he later won a lawsuit for damages against theState, which was sentenced to compensate him for arbitrary detention.

[4] The Bar Human Rights Committee of Englandand Wales (BHRC), Amicus Curiae before the Superior Tribunal (el Tribunal Superior) of Santander inrelation to the trial and sentence dictated by the First Criminal Court of theSpecialized Circuit-Attached-(Providence n° 151, filed:. 2011-0049-01 the 16thof November 2012. Case against David Ravelo Crespo), Paragraph 72.

[5] The UN General Assembly ́s Human RightsCouncil, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges andlawyers, Gabriela Knaul, A/HRC/17/30/Add.1, May 2011.

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