17 December 2010

Open letter: Members of the European Parliament address Latin American governments

Brussels the 17th of December 2010

In February 2009, the illegal activities of the DAS, one of Colombia’s intelligence services, were publicly revealed: a large number of people, including, Supreme Court judges, human rights defenders, journalists, trade unionists, political opponents, and NGO members were shown to be spied upon, stigmatised, discredited, threatened, and persecuted by the DAS.

Several judicial proceedings are ongoing against DAS public servants involved in this surveillance scandal. On the 28th of August 2010, one of the former deputy directors of the DAS, Jorge Alberto Lagos, was sentenced to eight years detention, and publicly recognised the claims. We welcome this judicial step.

Several DAS public servants are currently fleeing Colombia and applying for asylum in neighbouring countries, arguing insufficient protection from the Colombian justice system. On the 19th of November 2010, Maria del Pilar Hurtado, ex-director of the DAS, obtained asylum in Panama.

We express our deep concerns regarding the decision of Panama’s government which thus contributes to impunity to those responsible for DAS illegal activities.
We wish to remind the governments of Latin American countries that, under the Geneva Convention of 1951, asylum cannot be granted to people responsible for crimes or facts contrary to the goals and principles of the United Nations.

This is why, we urge the governments of the Latin American countries to refuse asylum to people prosecuted in the DAS case.

We also wish to remind the Colombian authorities of their obligation to protect all the people indicted in the DAS case in order to obtain justice. In this regard, we welcome the last statements from the new Colombian President, Mr Juan Manuel Santos, recalling that the Colombian justice system offers all the necessary guaranties in this respect.
Last Update 17 December 2010
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