Skip to main content

Colombia: Trade Unions

Volume 502: debated on Monday 14 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of the number of trade unionists murdered in Colombia in the last 12 months; what steps he is taking to assist the Colombian Government to reduce this figure; and if he will make a statement. (306156)

[holding answer 10 December 2009]: We see a variety of reports from different sources on the number of trade unionists murdered in Colombia. The bottom line is that one trade union murder is one too many and the level of violence and human rights abuse in Colombia is unacceptable.

The Government support the work of human rights defenders in Colombia through a range of projects. Projects approved for this financial year and beyond total around £1 million; two of these specifically help tackle impunity and three are aimed at strengthening the position of human rights defenders. We are also working with the UN on a research initiative to help improve the protection of trade union human rights and the development of positive labour relations.

Our embassy staff in Colombia meet with many who have received threats, and we will continue to do so in line with EU guidelines on human rights defenders.

I raised our concerns with President Uribe when I visited Colombia in October 2009, and I made a joint statement with Foreign Minister Bermúdez declaring;

"the defence of human rights is necessary and legitimate for democracy, and in a country such as Colombia, which takes pride in being completely open and ready to accept international security in this area.

We welcome these public statements from the highest levels of the Colombian Government.”