David Ravelo Crespo, CREDHOS. Photo: PBI ColombiaRole: Secretary of the board of the Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights (CREDHOS), based in Barrancabermeja, Santander.

Nature of work: CREDHOS documents human rights violations; provides legal and technical assistance to victims; provides training in human rights and international humanitarian law; publishes regional human rights reports

Ravelo’s lawyers from the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CCAJAR) – who PBI also accompanies – have been the targets of surveillance, false accusations and death threats in relation to this case and others.

David Ravelo was detained on 14 September 2010 and on 5 December 2012 he was sentenced to 18 years in prison for aggravated murder. International human rights organisations and lawyers have denounced the conviction as politically motivated, highlighting procedural irregularities during the trial. They point out that the conviction is based principally on the statements of a demobilised paramilitary agent and former guerrilla, who testified under Justice and Peace Law (JPL) 975 of 2005, a widely-criticised law that offers reduced sentences in return for information.[1]

A charismatic social leader and key member of the Barrancabermeja human rights movement, David Ravelo received continuous death threats prior to his arrest. His arrest and subsequent sentencing are seen as further tactics in a campaign of persecution and stigmatisation against him and CREDHOS, as well as a warning to the wider social movement of which they are part.

Amnesty International, Christian AidABColombia and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have all expressed concern for Ravelo’s safety. Ravelo was a finalist for Frontline’s 2013 Award for Defenders at Risk.

Alliance members can help by:

  • Raising awareness in the legal sector of David Revelo’s case in the context of the trend towards stigmatisation and criminal framing – “criminalisation” – of human rights defenders in Colombia
  • Lobbying UK and Colombian governments, to send the message that legal experts around the world are following the case
  • Visiting or writing to David Ravelo in prison to support him during the appeal process
  • Carrying out political advocacy at the international level to raise awareness of this case
  • Preparing amicus curiae briefs to support the appeal against the sentence

1 Human Rights First, ‘Unreliable nature of witnesses receiving reintegration benefits’, Baseless Prosecutions of Human Rights Defenders In Colombia, Section II-A. February 2009.