[Ppnews] Justice and Freedom for the Granada 17
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Mar 28 08:48:55 EDT 2007
To: Keith Mitchell, the Prime Minister of Grenada; The Commonwealth
Leaders; Amnesty International; Human Rights Watch; OAS Human Rights
JUSTICE AND FREEDOM FOR THE GRENADA 17
We, the undersigned, come together before you, seeking truth, justice
and freedom for the Grenada 17, who have been unjustly incarcerated
at Richmond Hill Prison, Grenada, for almost 22 years.
As the surviving former political and military leaders of the
Grenadian revolution, the Grenada 17 were arrested in October 1983
when the United States, in clear violation of international law,
invaded the beautiful island of Grenada. Within a week, 79 world
governments expressed their disapproval of this action, and the
United Nation's General Assembly voted 108 to 9 to condemn the
The statements given by the Grenada 17 to police investigators in
November 1983, and later recorded in the form of affidavits, bear
witness to the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment these political
prisoners were subjected to upon their arrest. They also reveal that
the confessions of guilt, which were used as evidence in the trial of
the 17, were extracted from them under torture. Apart from these
coerced confessions, the convictions of the Grenada 17 were based
solely on the perjured evidence of a single witness, who was later
described by an eminent Caribbean Appeals Court Judge as 'having a
grudge against the accused, and therefore a motive to lie'.
The numerous deceits and irregularities of the trial of the Grenada
17, and of the subsequent legal motions through which their appeals
for justice were turned down, are described in the 2003 Amnesty
International report entitled 'The Grenada 17: Last of the Cold War
The Amnesty document considers the process against the 17 to have
been 'fatally flawed' and 'manifestly unjust', and calls for an
independent judicial review of their convictions. So far the
Grenadian authorities have not acted upon Amnesty's recommendations.
The Grenada 17 have always maintained their innocence and have stated
that if they had been allowed a free and fair trial they would have
cleared their names and be free today.
The mental, physical and emotional abuse and stress that the 17 have
endured during the 22 years of their imprisonment have taken a heavy
toll. Phyllis Coard, former Deputy Minister for Women's Affairs, was
diagnosed with cancer in 2000 after 16 years of incarceration, which
included nearly 7 years in isolation. She was granted only temporary
release for treatment. In 2004, John Ventour, former General
Secretary of the Grenada Trade Union Council, was also diagnosed with
cancer. He remains incarcerated. Others of the Grenada 17 suffer from
severe prostatitis, arthritis, diabetes, and other medical
conditions. Former Deputy PM Bernard Coard is losing his sight.
During its time in power, the People's Revolutionary Government, of
which many of the 17 were members, was responsible for substantial
social and economic reforms. These gifted and capable people, now
languishing in prison, brought free medical care and free education
to Grenada. They set up a health center in every parish and effected
the doubling of the number of doctors on the island. They helped
raise literacy by teacher education and an each-one-teach-one program
throughout the countryside. They inaugurated a healthy, independent
agro-industry relying on domestic resources, which surpassed all
other Caribbean economies in the rate of its growth and stability.
They reduced the rate of unemployment from 40 to 14 percent.
Furthermore, during their time of incarceration, the Grenada 17 have
exhibited exemplary behavior, earning academic degrees in a variety
of fields and running an educational program for other inmates, which
has contributed substantially to those inmates' prospects for rehabilitation.
In 2004, Archbishop Desmond Tutu urged clemency for the Grenada 17,
stating that the time had come for healing and reconciliation. We
join him, as well as Amnesty International and those honourable
judges who have demonstrated their integrity and independence through
rulings favourable to the 17, in calling upon Prime Minister Mitchell
and the Grenada government to do what's best for all concerned: Set
the 17 free, and let Grenada move forward into a future no longer
afflicted by the pain and mistakes of the past.
To Sign Petition:
The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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