Petition urging fair appeal for jailed academic to be presented at Colombian Embassy

18 November 2015 | last updated: 10 December 2015

A 5,000-strong petition calling for the swift resolution of jailed Colombian academic Dr Miguel Beltran's appeal process will be submitted to the Colombian Embassy in London on Thursday.

The petition was started by UCU and Justice for Colombia in response to the rearrest of Dr Beltran in Bogota in July 2015. 

The outspoken academic, who has published research on the Colombian conflict and criticised the actions of the Colombian government, was first arrested in 2009 on charges of 'rebellion' and 'criminal conspiracy for terrorist objectives'. He spent two years in jail awaiting trial but was released in 2011 following a high-profile campaign.

Since his release, Dr Beltran has faced continued persecution for his academic views culminating in his rearrest on 31 July 2015 after the charge of 'rebellion' was reinstated. 

The petition calls on the Colombian authorities to ensure due process is followed during Dr Beltran's appeal process. It has attracted support from academics in over 20 countries, including eminent Oxford mathematics Professor Sir John Ball.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt said: 'This petition sends a clear message to the Colombian authorities that attempts to intimidate academic staff and restrict academic freedom will not be tolerated by the international community. We call on the Colombian government to ensure that Dr Beltran's appeal is handled swiftly and fairly.'

Representatives from UCU and Justice for Colombia will present the petition to the Colombian Embassy in London at 3pm on Thursday, at the same time as the petition is handed in to the Supreme Court in Colombia.

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