Principe Gabriel Gonzalez, like many human rights activists in Colombia, has been harassed by his own government. Baseless criminal charges, imprisonment, stigmatization as a "terrorist"-these are unfortunately an all-too-common experience for human rights defenders in Colombia.
Gonzalez has endured these challenges to continue his critical work fighting for justice for victims of the conflict in Colombia - and this is why Human Rights First has chosen him as the recipient of our annual human rights award. But Gonzalez may not be able to come to New York this month to accept the award - not because the Colombian government will not let him leave Colombia, but because the U.S. government has not granted him a visa to enter the United States.
We are asking for your help to remove Gonzalez from the bureaucratic limbo he has been in for the last four months. Sign our petition today to urge U.S. government officials to grant Gonzalez a visa.
Gonzalez's case illustrates the predicament activists face when they are falsely accused of being terrorists as a result of their work in support of human rights. In an ironic and sad twist of fate, his advocacy fighting for the rights of prisoners landed him in jail in Colombia and now threatens to bar him from entry to the United States. His visa is being held up apparently because of the false charges lodged against him by the Colombian authorities-despite U.S. agreement that those charges amount to nothing.
In a report earlier this year, Human Rights First exposed how Colombian prosecutors routinely use trumped-up charges to stigmatize and silence human rights activists. Fortunately, we have achieved real progress in a number of the cases we documented, including the release of over a dozen activists who were unjustly detained and the opening of an investigation into a prosecutor involved in one of the cases.
By honoring Gonzalez with this prestigious award, we are recognizing his courage and dedication to the pursuit of justice as well as the broader movement to advance human rights in Colombia. Join Human Rights First in standing up for Gonzalez and for the scores of human rights defenders who face baseless criminal charges in Colombia!
Manager, Human Rights Defenders program