When I visited Colombia, I issued a joint statement with President Uribe and the Foreign Minister declaring that
“the defence of human rights is necessary and legitimate for democracy, in a country like Colombia which is proud of being fully open and ready for international Scrutiny on this subject”.
We work closely with EU partners, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and human rights defenders on implementation of the EU guidelines on human rights defenders. For example, we have made visits to rural communities, including the Curvarado River Basin, and more recently Popoyan, to visit communities and human rights defenders that are under threat, and we are planning further visits in conjunction with EU partners.
We also make representations to the Colombian authorities in specific cases of violence or threats against individual or collective human rights defenders. Our ambassador recently wrote to the Colombian Director of Human Rights, Carlos Franco, to request a greater level of protection for a human rights defender under threat. We also make our support clearly visible by visiting those under threat at their places of work.
We undertake a range of project work alongside Colombian and international NGOs aimed at supporting the work of human rights defenders. For example, we run two projects on tackling impunity in the criminal justice system, and three specifically aimed at promoting and strengthening the position of human rights defenders in Colombia.
Yes, we will follow this trial with interest.
We are involved in a number of activities to help human rights defenders in Colombia, and to support their cause. In October 2009 I visited Colombia, where I urged President Uribe to ensure that human rights defenders were properly supported and protected.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary recently met Eduardo Carreno, a Colombian human rights lawyer, to discuss the problems human rights defenders face, and to express the UK’s support for their cause. Our ambassador in Bogota and his officials make representations to the Colombian Government in specific cases of violence or threats against human rights defenders, and visit them at their offices to demonstrate the UK’s support.
In addition to our lobbying activities, we also provide practical support through our project work in the areas of freedom of expression, tackling impunity, equality and promoting civil society.