Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Parole Board denies Oscar López Rivera parole - ignores own guidelines

May 10, 2011

Today, on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the
arrest of Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López
Rivera, the U.S. Parole Commission issued a
decision denying his petition to reconsider the February 18
ruling denying parole. The Commission justified
its decision by assigning him responsibility for conduct
he was never accused or convicted of.

The decision, erroneously asserting that his
release would promote disrespect for the law, ignores the
express will of the Puerto Rican people and those
who believe in justice and human rights, counting tens
of thousands of voices across the political
spectrum supporting his immediate release. The Commission
ignored the evidence establishing that Oscar met
all the criteria for parole, and also ignored its own
rules in the process.

Among these many ignored voices are members of
legislatures including the United States Congress; the
state legislatures of New York, Illinois, Ohio
and Pennsylvania; the city councils and county boards of
many locales in the U.S. and Puerto Rico; the
mayors of many towns in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, including
the Association of Mayors of Puerto Rico; bar
associations including the Puerto Rico Bar Association,
the National Lawyers Guild and the American
Association of Jurists; clergy and religious organizations,
including the Ecumenical Coalition representing
every religious denomination in Puerto Rico; the National
Latino Congreso, human rights advocates,
academics, students, artists, community organizations,
and workers.

The Commission did not ignore President Clinton's
determination in 1999 that Oscar's sentence was
disproportionately lengthy and that Oscar should
be released in September of 2009. Instead, it held "the
Commission is not required to share that
assessment." However, the Commission did ignore that Oscar's
co-defendants released as a result of the 1999
Clinton clemency are productive, law-abiding citizens,
fully integrated into civil society. The
Commission also ignored its own July 2010 order to release Oscar's
last remaining imprisoned co-defendant Carlos Alberto Torres.

The White House has recently proposed to initiate
a process of to resolve the status of Puerto Rico. A
true process of self-determination under
international law would be accompanied by the release of political
prisoners. The Commission's adverse decision is
at odds with such an undertaking.

The United States government consistently demands
that other governments, in order to establish their
democratic credentials, release political
prisoners in their custody. The Commission's adverse decision
today demonstrates conduct inconsistent with what
the U.S. demands of other governments.

Oscar, his family, his attorney, National Boricua
Human Rights Network in the U.S. and the Comité Pro
Derechos Humanos in Puerto Rico want to express
our deepest gratitude for the vast support for his
release. We will count on ongoing support as we
continue to press for Oscar's release.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Justice served by keeping this animal behind bars - common decency wins out for once - Amen!