Trade Union General Secretaries Express Alarm at Colombia 'human rights crisis'

Train in a station ©G.Theobald

Trade unions in Britain and Ireland have written to Colombia's Human Rights Commissioner today to express their 'extreme concern' following an increase in massacres and murders of social activists and former guerrillas who entered into the peace process.

According to Colombian human rights organisation INDEPAZ, 205 social leaders and human rights defenders have been murdered in 2020.

In the letter the union leaders also condemn the recent actions of the Colombian police after they opened fire on unarmed protestors in Bogota reportedly killing up to thirteen people.

The letter states: We have been shocked over recent months as each day seems to bring horrifying new accounts of violence committed against activists, young people [and] trade unionists.

The principal trade union centres in Britain and Ireland, as well as 19 individual trade unions, also said they were ‘greatly alarmed’ over reported human rights violations committed by state security forces: These include extrajudicial killings...the illegal monitoring of opposition politicians...and the military raid in August 2019 which killed several children despite authorities being warned of the presence of minors in the area.

Frances o’ Grady, General Secretary at the TUC said: “Whether committed by illegal armed groups or state security forces the ongoing violence against activists and trade unionists in Colombia is unacceptable. The international trade union movement is a long-standing supporter of peace and human rights in Colombia and what we are seeing right now is reminding us of some of the worst periods in Colombia’s violent history.”

The signatories of the letter, including Britain’s Trades Union Congress (TUC), the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), in total representing close to seven million workers, coordinate their Colombia solidarity work through the London-based campaign organisation Justice for Colombia.

According to Hasan Dodwell, the Director of Justice for Colombia: “The Colombian state has been too slow to implement the peace agreement and it is not engaging sufficiently in the mechanisms created to counter the paramilitary violence which is a fundamental cause of this human rights crisis. There is still huge international support for the Colombian peace process but if the Colombian government does not radically shift gears in its approach to implementation and take more significant action to respond to the killings of community leaders and FARC former guerrillas it risks presiding over one of the biggest missed opportunities in Colombia’s history”.

You can view the complete letter by clicking here.

For further information, contact:

Hasan Dodwell, Director, Justice for Colombia E: T: (+44) 7859 934234  

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