Saturday, 22 September 2012

Caselist: Canada, Colombia


Twice a year the PEN International Writers In Prison Committee produces a caselist of individuals around the world who are detained or otherwise persecuted for their peaceful political activities or for the practice of their profession.

Read the January – June 2012 Caselist by clicking on the image.... For previous caselists go to Campaign Resources.

An Extract: 
*Eric-Yvan LEMAY: reporter for Journal de Montréal. Officers of Surete du Québec (Québec Provincial Police) arrived at his home on March 15 2012 with a search warrant. They seized his computer and some of his clothing, and obtained fingerprints. Lemay published a series of articles exposing the lack of privacy surrounding patients’ hospital records in Québec. They included information from, and photographs of, patient files that had been left open in public view. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression believes this raid to be an attempt to intimidate Lemay and other journalists.

Imprisoned – Main Case  
*Luis Agustín GONZÁLEZ: journalist for the newspaper Cundinamarca Democrática was on 29 February 2012 found guilty by the supreme court of offending the honour of the ex governor of Cundinamarca, Leonor Serrano de Camargo, but was absolved of libeling him. González had been found guilty in September 2011 of both charges earlier, based on an article he wrote in 2008 questioning the political aspirations of the then governor. The article was entitled ‘NO MAS!’ (No More). The supreme court modified a previous sentence, and González will now serve 18 months and 18 days in prison, with a fine of 17 months’ salary.

On trial 
Angye GAONA (f): poet, cultural worker and student, is on trial for“aggravated conspiracy for drug trafficking and rebellion” (concierto para delinquir agravado con fines de narcotráfico y rebellion). She was arrested on 13 January 2011 in Cucuta, Norte de Santander department, near the border with Venezuela, and detained at Buen Pastor Prison in Cucuta until her release on bail on 21 May, three days after the maximum 90-day period during which she could be legally held without charge. At the time of her release, the charges against Gaona had not yet been formalised and the prosecution had yet to present any evidence against her.
Legal case: The hearing in which Gaona was formally charged took place in Cartagena on 23 May, two days after her release; her lawyer attended but Gaona was not obliged to appear in court. The arrest warrant against her has not yet been revoked and the Attorney General has appealed her release order. Gaona denies the charges and maintains that the case against her is a set-up and is due to her leftwing sympathies. She says she was not interrogated even once during her three months’ detention, and also questions the fact that she was detained in Cucuta when the case has been brought in Cartagena, more than 400 km away.
Update: Her trial began on 15 February 2012, in Cartagena de Indias.
Possible reasons for arrest: Gaona’s supporters claim the real reason for her arrest is her outspoken support for the demands of a labour union in the district where she lives. Her detention has been linked to that of three other student activists in the region, Julián Aldoni Domínguez, William Rivera Rueda and Aracely Cañaveral Vélez. The arrests reportedly took place in the context of a wave of attacks against human rights defenders in the Santander region, including attempted assassinations and forced disappearances and death threats, and against informal economy workers affiliated to the Colombian Trades Union Congress (Central Unitaria de Trabajadores, CUT) in Bucaramanga. It is feared that the arrests are intended to silence their legitimate human rights activism.
Trial Concerns: Gaona maintains that she has been depicted as a terrorist by the press, that witnesses against her are former members of the armed forces, and that the prosecution is using recordings of  allegedly incriminating telephone conversations as evidence against her. Her defence deny that it is Gaona’s voice in the recordings.  
Background: Born in Bucaramanga on 21 May 1980, Gaona’s poems have been published in anthologies and other print and internet publications in Colombia and abroad. In 2009 she published her first book, Nacimiento Volátil (Volatile Birth) (Editorial Rizoma). Until her detention a student of languages and literature at the Universidad Industrial de Santander, Bucaramanga, Gaona is a former organiser of the Medellín International Poetry Festival and in 2001 organised the International Exhibition of Experimental Poetry, also in Medellín. Prior to her arrest, she organised poetry events in Bucaramanga. She is also said to work as a journalist for community media. Gaona is the mother of a young child.

Edinson LUCIO TORRES: internet journalist (author of the blog “Lucio y sus notas”) based in Cartagena, Bolivar, is on trial for allegedly defaming a former senator. The senator sued Lucio Torres for criminal defamation in October 2006 after the journalist reported on his blog and radio programme that the former senator was one of eight people shown to have links with paramilitary groups. Lucio Torres, who is also the Bolívar head of the opposition Polo Democrático political party, reportedly based his comments on reports from national newspaper El Tiempo, the regional Ombudsman’s Office and a non governmental organisation. The charges against him were admitted on 14 February 2008 and the Prosecutor’s Office subsequently ruled that Lucio Torres did not have sufficient proof for his allegations and had slandered the plaintiff. The initial hearing commenced on 19 February 2010, having reportedly been postponed six times. On 26 April 2011 Lucio Torres was found guilty of aggravated defamation and sentenced to 14 months in prison and a fine. He appealed the sentence. At 31 December 2011, Lucio Torres was still waiting for his appeal to be heard before the Tribunal Superior de Cartagena (High Court of Cartagena). No further news at 30 June 2012.

*Roméo Langlois: former Le Figaro journalist and documentary maker was kidnapped by members of the FARC at the end of April 2012 while he was filming soldiers destroying cocaine laboratories. FARC described him as a prisoner of war and said that he would be released only if the government engaged in public talks about freedom of information. The government said that it will not negotiate with terrorists. The journalist was released a month later on 30 May 2012.

[page] 19


No comments: