16 October 2009

Colombian activist given America Visa to accept human rights award

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The US Government has been praised for granting the Colombian activist Gabriel Gonzalez's American Visa to enter the country to receive the prestigious Human Rights First award.

Human Rights First, the organisation behind the awards, praised the US government for granting the American Visa.

“We are thrilled that Gabriel will have the opportunity to come to the United States and receive this well-deserved honour. The State Department made the right call in granting Gabriel’s visa, a decision that is a sensible extension of their long time support in his case,” said Human Rights First’s Andrew Hudson.

“It is an honour to support Gabriel’s important work and to enable him to provide firsthand information to policy makers in the US about the arbitrary detention of Colombian activists.”

Gonzalez has worked to promote access to justice for prisoners and victims of Colombia’s conflict as a student activist and regional co-ordinator of the Political Prisoners Solidarity Committee in Colombia. 

Sadly, Gonzalez’s advocacy of human rights has led to his own arrest and detention on a false charge of being a guerrilla leader and he faces further imprisonment if his appeal to the Supreme Court is unsuccessful. In 2007, the US State Department included Gonzalez in its human rights country report citing his baseless prosecution as being a sign of “the government's attempts to harass human rights defenders.”

Gonzalez was chosen for the 2009 Human Rights Award in recognition of his courageous defence of human rights in Colombia.


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