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Cablegate: Communication From Sr On the Promotion And

R 121348Z AUG 08
FM USMISSION GENEVA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 7043
INFO AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK

UNCLAS GENEVA 000684


STATE FOR IO-RHS, DRL-MLGA, L-HRR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM UNHRC
SUBJECT: COMMUNICATION FROM SR ON THE PROMOTION AND
PROTECTION OF THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF OPINION AND
EXPRESSION AND SR ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

1. Mission has received a communication from the Special
Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to
freedom of opinion and expression and Special Rapporteur on
the situation of human rights defenders. This communication
is number 38 on the Geneva 2008 Communications Log.

2. Begin text of letter. Excellency, We have the honour to
address you in our capacities as Special Rapporteur on the
promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion
and expression and Special Rapporteur on the situation of
human rights defenders pursuant to General Assembly
resolution 60/251 and to Human Rights Council resolutions
7/36 and 7/8.

In this connection, we would like to draw the attention
of your Government to information we have received regarding
Mr. Athemay Sterling, a Colombian citizen. Mr. Athemay
Sterling is Director of the Centro de Derechos Humanos e
Interpretacion Politica de la Universidad Santiago de Cali en
Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (Human Rights and Political
Interpretation Centre at the University of Santiago de Cali
for the Defense of Human Rights), and is a member of Comite
por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (CPDH - Permanent
Committee for the Defense of Human Rights) in Colombia.

According to information received:

On 30 June 2008, Mr. Athemay Sterling arrived in the
United States of America. His visa was canceled upon arrival
and he was held in administrative detention at the Krome
detention centre in Miami Florida. For 48 hours, no food was
provided and no explanation was given to him as to why he was
being detained. He had allegedly undergone intensive
interrogation in particular about presumed links with a
former guerrilla group known as M-19.

Mr. Athemay Sterling had been on his way to Washington
to provide information to the Inter-American Commission for
Human Rights regarding environmental and health rights
violations in Colombia about which he had communicated with
the commission. He had planned to stay in the United States
of America until 22 July 2008. However, he currently remains
in detention.

On 30 July 2008, a hearing was held regarding the
detention of Mr. Athemay Sterling. According to the
immigration police he is undergoing an administrative
procedure. No explanation for his detention has yet been
given by the immigration police.

Concern is expressed that Mr. Athemay Sterling is unable
to carry out his legitimate work in the defense of human
rights while he is in detention. Further concern is
expressed for the physical and psychological integrity of Mr.
Athemay Sterling while he is in detention.

In this connection, we would like to refer Your
Excellency's Government to the fundamental principles set
forth in the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of
Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and
Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental
Freedoms, and in particular articles 1 and 2 which state that
"everyone has the right individually or in association with
others, to promote and to strive for the protection and
realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the
national and international levels" and that "each State has a
prime responsibility and duty to protect, promote and
implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms, inter
alia, by adopting such steps as may be necessary to create
all conditions necessary in the social, economic, political
and other fields, as well as the legal guarantees required to
ensure that all persons under its jurisdiction, individually
and in association with others, are able to enjoy all those
rights and freedoms in practice".

Furthermore, we would like to bring to the attention of
your Excellency's Government the following provisions of the
Declaration, and in particular to the article 12 paras 2 and
3 of the Declaration which provide that the State shall take
all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the
competent authorities of everyone, individually and in
association with others, against any violence, threats,
retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination,
pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of
his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in
the Declaration. In this connection, everyone is entitled,
individually and in association with others, to be protected
effectively under national law in reacting against or
opposing, through peaceful means, activities and acts,
including those by omission, attributable to States that
result in violations of human rights and fundamental
freedoms, as well as acts of violence perpetrated by groups
or individuals that affect the enjoyment of human rights and
fundamental freedoms.

We should also like to appeal to your Excellency's
Government to take all necessary steps to secure the right to
freedom of opinion and expression of Mr. Athemay Sterling, in
accordance with fundamental principles as set forth in
article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights which provides that "everyone shall have the
right to freedom of expression; this right shall include
freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of
all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing
or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media
of his choice".

We would like to appeal to your Excellency's Government
to take all necessary steps to ensure the right to freedom of
association as recognized in article 22 of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides that
"everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with
others, including the right to form and join trade unions for
the protection of his interests".

In the event that your investigations support or suggest
the above allegations to be correct, we urge your Government
to take all necessary measures to guarantee that the rights
and freedoms of Mr. Athemay Sterling are respected and
accountability of any person guilty of the alleged violation
is ensured. We also request that your Government adopt
effective measures to prevent the recurrence of these acts.

In view of the urgency of the matter, we would
appreciate a response on the initial steps taken by your
Excellency's Government to safeguard the rights of Mr.
Athemay Sterling in compliance with the above international
instruments.

Moreover, it is our responsibility under the mandates
provided to us by the Human Rights Council, to seek to
clarify all cases brought to our attention. Since we are
expected to report on these cases to the Human Rights
Council, we would be grateful for your cooperation and your
observations on the following matters, when relevant to the
case under consideration:

1. Are the facts alleged in the above summary of the
case accurate?

2. Has a complaint been lodged?

3. Please provide information concerning the legal
grounds for the detention of Mr. Athemay Sterling, and how
these measures are compatible with international norms and
standards as stated, inter alia, in the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights and the Declaration on human rights
defenders.

We undertake to ensure that your Government's response
to each of these questions is accurately reflected in the
reports we will submit to the Human Rights Council for its
consideration.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of our highest
consideration. Ambeyi Ligabo, Special Rapporteur on the
promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion
and expression, Margaret Sekaggya, Special Rapporteur on the
situation of human rights defenders. End text of letter.

TICHENOR

NNNN

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