IHRC Urges Obama Administration to Support Colombian Human Rights Activists
Clinic Joins Human Rights Groups in Lobbying Secretary Clinton, International Human Rights Commission
In October, GW Law’s International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) joined eight human rights organizations in urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration to increase protections for human rights activists in Colombia. In a letter to Secretary Clinton, the groups asserted that the United States should deploy its influence to help prevent human rights violations in that country. The letter focused on the persecution of human rights defenders in general, and human rights activist Principe Gabriel González in particular, who was convicted in 2010 of rebellion based on trumped up charges, and in flagrant violation of basic due process guarantees. González’s case is paradigmatic of the persecution faced by human rights defenders in Colombia.
The letter to Secretary Clinton comes almost three years after the IHRC together with Human Rights First filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on González’ behalf. The case, which is pending, challenges González’s conviction as baseless and obtained in violation of international due process guarantees, including the presumption of innocence, as well as the rights to confront witnesses and appeal a conviction. The case continues to be litigated by Professor Carrillo with the support of IHRC students.
On October 26, Professor Carrillo and Alexandra Sánchez, a former clinic student and current legal fellow, met with IACHR Commissioner Silvia Guillén and a senior lawyer from the IACHR’s Human Rights Defenders unit to request that the Commission adopt protective measures on González’s behalf. In addition, González’ attorneys requested that his case be given expedited review in light of its importance in Colombia (and the region). They were joined by González’ Colombian counsel, Franklin Castañeda, who directs the human rights NGO for which his client previously worked.