WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

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2 May 2023 | Joint Statement

We Condemn the Stigmatization of Jota Ramos and Demand Protection and Justice

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and Colombia Acuerdo de Paz NGO demand that Minister of Defense Ivan Velázquez investigate the case of artist and social leader Jota Ramos (full name Jhon Javier Ramos Laurido). Mr. Ramos and two other people accompanying him were arbitrarily and falsely detained by the police on March 24 at a chicken barbecue located on Carrera 20 and Calle 9A, 48 kilometers within the municipality of Dagua. According to the leader, he left his truck unoccupied for lunch, and when he returned he and his truck were searched and accused of having a package containing illegal substances among the packages of chicken he was transporting.

The police took the group to the Dagua police station and they were interrogated by a person in civilian clothes. Mr. Ramos was falsely accused of belonging to a criminal group and pressured to accept false charges and give names of innocent people. Without legal representation, he was forced to sign a blank document confessing to the crime. Mr. Ramos refused to sign, then the police pressured him to sign a statement of good treatment document by the police officers who arrested him. He was then detained in undignified and subhuman conditions without access to a lawyer. His family was only able to see him on the fifth day of detention.

Subsequently, during the hearing before the Prosecutor’s Office, Mr. Ramos was denied a technical defense. In turn, the decisions of the penal system were made in an environment where he was presumed guilty with accusations, stigmatized, and without proof of belonging to an illegal group.

The singling out of a recognized Afro-descendant social leader and artist, the mistreatment he received by the police, the pressures, detention without access to a lawyer, and impartial decisions made without following the legal requirements appear to be a false judicial positive. We, therefore, demand that the U.S. Government insists that the Colombian authorities urgently request the following:

  • An investigation of the police officers and prosecutorial authorities involved in this situation. A review of the facts that impartially and independently clarify the procedures, treatment, and actions of the police and public servants is required.
  • The U.S. government should ask the Ministry of Defense to act on this matter and, if it finds that there was a miscarriage of justice, then sanction the police officers involved and demand an audit of the police station in Dagua. In the meantime, Mr. Ramos and his family must be guaranteed protection in case he receives reprisals for reporting this matter.
  • The Office of Vice President Francia Márquez should investigate the matter and determine if the targeting of Mr. Ramos was because of his race and/or his status as an artist and social leader. Mr. Ramos previously had to flee the country due to death threats for his work to defend his community.




The Washington Office on Latin America

Colombia Acuerdo de Paz NGO

Washington DC, 28 April 202


This text has been translated from Spanish by WOLA.