The president of the Congress Human Rights Commission has ordered the suspension of the director of the Presidential Program for Human Rights, following accusations of sexual assault.
The president of the Congress Human Rights Commission, Juan Mario Laserna, has offered support to his accused colleague, but maintains that he cannot work while under investigation.
Laserna told W Radio that Tomas Ernesto Concha, who was the director the Presidential Program for Human Rights, explains that his colleague had to be suspended after he was accused by a female colleague or repeated sexual assault.
But he stressed that “people must be proved guilty – and not just with suspicions”. Laserna said, “People must not be condemned in the court of public opinion without having the opportunity to defend themselves – but the accusations have to be taken seriously, and so we must suspend (Concha) while they are investigated”.
Concha, who has represented Colombia in various international human rights tribunals, was accused by a female colleague in September of relentlessly harassing and sexually abusing her during December 2010. The Prosecutor General’s Office has opened an investigation.
Congressman Laserna said such cases were “very difficult,” and while it was important to get to the bottom of the matter, Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzon had been right to remind people that “due process is one of the most important human rights.”
Vice President Garzon made an official statement over the weekend saying Concha had been “an able public servant who had represented Colombia with dignity”, and he expected his innocence to be proved.