PBI-Colombia draws attention to NOMADESC and dhColombia media conference on ESMAD riot police killing of Jhonny Silva

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On February 10, the Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project tweeted about a media conference organized by NOMADESC, dhColombia and the family of Jhonny Silva about a judicial action filed before the Supreme Court of Justice.

That judicial action is calling for a review of the decision of the Prosecutor’s Office to close the criminal proceedings against Colonel Gabriel Bonilla who was in charge of the ESMAD operation the day that Silva was killed by the police.

That media conference can be seen on Facebook here.

The Oxford Human Rights Hub has explained: “Jhonny Silva-Aranguren was a [21 year old] chemistry student tragically murdered on September 22nd of 2005 in the Universidad del Valle’s campus [in Cali, Valle del Cauca] during a demonstration against the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. According to witnesses, a member of ESMAD (anti-riot police) shot Jhonny when he left the library to go home.”

(Talks on a Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement began on June 7, 2007, less than two years after Silva was killed by the ESMAD.)

PBI-Colombia has further noted: “Lawyer Jorge Molano [of dhColombia] represents the relatives of Jhonny Silva. As yet, there have been no convictions in the case and in September 2016, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) admitted the case of Jhonny Silva, and a formal case against Colombia was initiated.”

“In 2010, the Public Prosecutor brought the former sub-commander of the ESMAD to trial, Gabriel Bonilla Gonzalez, but his conviction for the murder of Jhonny Silva was overturned on appeal.”

Significantly, the PBI-Colombia article highlights: “In 2011, the Valle del Cauca Administrative Tribunal determined that the Nation, the Minister of Defence and the National Police were responsible for the student’s murder.”

In December 2019, the Colombian NGO Temblores reported that the ESMAD had killed 34 people since its inception in 1999. Most of those killed were activists within Indigenous, student, or peasant movements and none have resulted in a conviction.

Issues of police violence in Canada, Colombia, Guatemala and Kenya were raised on a ‘Police violence has no borders’ webinar that PBI-Canada helped to organize in October 2020 that can be seen here. dhColombia lawyer German Romero who spoke at today’s media conference also participated in this webinar.

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