Good news: Liliany Obando released in Colombia

Colombian trade unionist, human rights defender and academic Liliany Obando was released from the Buen Pastor women's prison at 8:30pm on Thursday night, and was greeted by a delegation from the UK trade union solidarity organisation Justice for Colombia (JFC) which has campaigned for her release since she was imprisoned without trial on 8 August 2008 - over three years ago. She was being held on false accusations of "rebellion" and "the administration of resources related to terrorist purposes."

TUC Deputy General Secretary and JFC Vice President Frances O'Grady was there and said that "she spoke with great poise giving special mention to importance of international support and the other political prisoners left behind."

Welcome as the news is, however, the circumstances underline just how far from being an acceptable regime to do business with the Colombian Government is. Liliany was jailed on trumped up charges that have still never come to trial, and her release on bail is simply the result of evidence not being presented in time - the Colombian Government has not accepted her innocence. Her personal security is now a huge issue.

And the Government continues to breach International Labour Organisation (ILO) fundamental human rights by harassing trade unionists and denying collective bargaining rights, while allowing paramilitary groups to continue their war on the trade union movement with impunity.

In this context, it is hard to stomach attempts by Colombian Vice President Angelina Garzon to run for ILO Director General (especially as there is a much better candidate in former global union leader Guy Ryder); or attempts to legitimise the Colombian regime through agreeing a free trade agreement with the European Union.

Owen Tudor

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