Supreme Court frees Indigenous Leader Feliciano Valencia


ABColombia welcomes the decision by Colombia’s Supreme Court to acquit prominent Colombian indigenous leader Feliciano Valencia after he was arrested in 2015 under an alleged kidnapping charge.

The 2008 original ruling made by Popayan’s Superior Court, sentenced Feliciano Valencia to eighteen years in prison for allegedly kidnapping a Colombian soldier in the department of Cauca.

According to his defence lawyer, the soldier was dressed in civilian clothes and infiltrated an indigenous protest and indigenous territory in order to collect intelligence. The soldier was captured by the indigenous community and sentenced in accordance with the Indigenous Justice System.

Ruling by the Supreme Court

On Wednesday, 28 June 2017, the Supreme Court annulled this ruling stating that the soldier had falsely accused the indigenous people of being guerrillas, and in addition the solider,

did not just try to enter their territory, but failed to identify himself adequately and was carrying war equipment in an offense against the harmony of this community. [1]

Colombia’s National Indigenous Organisation (Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia – ONIC), stated:

Today we celebrate Feliciano freedom … [and]…the strengthening of the Indigenous Special Jurisdiction.

This decision by the Colombian Supreme Court decision reasserted the validity and legitimacy of the indigenous justice system, which is protected by the Colombian Constitution.

ABColombia welcome this decision by the Court. Indigenous leaders and human rights defenders like Feliciano Valencia are going to be important to Colombia in peace building and in supporting the implementation of the Peace Accord.

Other Links

> Washington Office of Latin America (WOLA) Statement: Colombia’s Supreme Court Frees Indigenous Leader Feliciano Valencia