Government Approves Protocol for Canadian Hostage’s Release in Colombia

By Dialogo
August 26, 2013

On August 22, the Colombian government approved the security protocols for the humanitarian mission that will be responsible for rescuing Canadian geologist Jernoc Wobert, who has been held by the ELN guerrillas since January, an International Red Cross spokesman reported.

“It is true; the protocol was approved. That was the only step we were missing,” the source told AFP, although the “date and time (for the liberation) is still unknown.”

The National Liberation Army (ELN), Colombia’s second largest guerrilla group with 2,500 combatants, stated on August 19 that they intended to release the Canadian to a humanitarian commission composed of representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Catholic authorities.

President Juan Manuel Santos, who considered the decision “the right step” to start a peace process, praised the announcement.

Fory-seven-year-old Wobert, an employee of Canadian company Braewal Mining, was captured by the guerrillas on January 18 in Bolivar department (north), along with two Peruvian and three Colombian citizens, who were released after a month of captivity, with an ICRC mission.

As a condition for Wobert’s release, the ELN has demanded the company return the property titles they had in the area.

By late June, the company announced it was ceasing its activities in Colombia, due to “unfavorable commercial conditions,” without mentioning the kidnapped engineer.