Colombia: UN special rapporteur slams record on impunity

Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world to be a trade unionist, but the Colombian Government denies this. The European Union has been negotiating a trade deal with Colombia for several months, in a move which will be seen as a validation of its 'improved' human nights record (sic). But the UN special rapportuer on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, has just published a report which shows just how obscenely ill-judged such a move would be. And this comes on top of staggering revelations that the Colombian secret service has been spying in Belgium, where the EU is of course based. Surely the EU must now listen to European and Latin American trade unionists and Justice for Colombia and abandon this trade treaty, and make sure President Uribe and the rest of the Colombian Government recognise that they will be international pariahs until they stop allowing trade unionists and others to be murdered with impunity?

Philip Alston's report has this to say on Colombia's record on the murders of trade unionists and others: "Important targets of unlawful killings by both Colombian State forces and IAGs have historically included human rights defenders, trade unionists, proponents of women’s, victims’ and minority rights, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals or people with physical or mental disabilities. Statistics about the number of unlawful killings of people in each of these categories differ, but the incontrovertible reality remains that they continue to be disproportionately killed or threatened and are especially vulnerable. Government efforts to hold perpetrators accountable are weak. For example, of 877 trade unionists killed between 1984 and 2008, only 106 cases have reached the sentencing stage, while the vast majority (621) remain at the initial investigative stage. Impunity for killings by State forces and by paramilitaries and IAGs continues."

Owen Tudor

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