The international labor and human rights community is demanding the immediate release of Colombian unionist and human rights advocate, David Ravelo. Ravelo was a leader in the USO oil-workers union, the oldest union in Colombia. In Barrancabermeja, one of Colombia’s biggest oil towns, Ravelo organized and led multiple human rights groups, among them the CREDHOS human rights organization and the regional section of MOVICE, an organization advocating for victims of state crimes. The Barrancabermeja Catholic Diocese honored him in 2008 for 35 years of human rights work.
Ravelo’s conviction on a trumped up charge of aggravated homicide was announced on Dec. 11, 2012. Ravelo was sentenced to 18 years and three months in prison. He was convicted based upon accusations made by a demobilised paramilitary agent and former guerrilla who testified under the Justice and Peace Law (JPL). Through the JPL, demobilised witnesses can receive reduced sentences in return for information. The Law has been widely criticised by for producing unreliable testimony.
Since Ravelo’s conviction and sentencing, dozens of European and U.S. human rights groups have condemned the judicial processes to which David Ravelo was subjected. In the United States, they included the Center for Constitutional Rights, Peace Brigades International, the Washington Office on Latin America, and the United Steelworkers.
Colombia’s prison population, now including 10,000 political prisoners, has increased by 30 percent during the current presidency of Juan Manuel Santos. Recent reports highlight abysmal prison conditions: foul sanitary facilities, limited availability of potable water, inadequate medical services, and overcrowding. Many political prisoners serve two to three years without charges and are then released. The U.S. government has contributed funding for prison construction in Colombia.
Please everyone click the link below to help free a former leader of the Colombian Oil Workers’ Union who later became a Human Rights activist in Colombia and is, we believe, framed and falsely imprisoned.