Why an EU free trade deal with Colombia would be bad for human rights

The EU is negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) with Colombia, the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist. Signing that deal would hand the Colombian Government a propaganda coup, suggesting that its human rights record was on the right track. It isn't.

Last year, 25% more trade unionists were killed than in 2008, just for being trade unionists. Their killers get away with it, time and time again, because the Colombian Government continues to demonise its opponents – giving the paramilitaries license to kill, and then fails to investigate, prosecute or punish.

EU Trade Commissioner Baroness Cathy Ashton says that she wants to insert conditions in the FTA requiring the Colombians to clean up their act. But she already has powers to do just that under the existing trade agreement with Colombia (known as GSP+). Last December, despite protests from trade unionists in Colombia and Europe, she renewed Colombia's preferential trade status without even an enquiry into its human and trade union rights record.

That's why the TUC Congress last week in Liverpool vowed to campaign against an EU-Colombia free trade agreement. Find out more on the TUC Touchstone blog, and at Justice for Colombia.

Owen Tudor

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