Unifor President Protests Colombia’s Arrest Of Feliciano Valencia
October 22, 2015
Note: This letter was originally sent on September 25, 2015
Sr. Juan Manuel Santos
Presidente de la República
Dear Mr. President,
On behalf of Unifor, the largest private sector union in Canada representing over 310,000 members in all sectors of the economy, I am writing to express my concern over the detention of Feliciano Valencia on September 15th, 2015 in La Augustina, Cauca. Mr. Valencia was detained after participating in an indigenous education event the city of Popayan. His detention was ordered by the Tribunal Superior court in Popayan, which overturned a previous ruling that had found Mr. Valencia innocent of charges of kidnapping and assault laid in April 2009. This latest ruling violates the Colombian Constitution, and the special indigenous legal jurisdiction which makes up part of what is defined in the constitution as a multi-ethnic, pluri-cultural rule of law system.
I understand that Mr. Valencia is an indigenous leader from the Asociación de Cabildos Indigenas del Norte del Cauca, and is recognized nationally and internationally for his knowledge of ethnic rights and his contributions to advances in indigenous legislation. I also understand that he has led countless protests and campaign actions for the collective rights of communities.
Furthermore, I understand that Mr. Valencia has suffered ongoing persecution, harassment and threats, and that the Colombian state has classified his situation as high risk, and that the Inter- American Commission of Human Rights has ordered precautionary measures from the Colombian government to protect his life.
I respectfully request that:
1. Feliciano Valencia be released immediately
2. A disciplinary investigation be held into the officials who ordered his arrest
Thank you very much for your attention to this urgent matter.