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Volume 591: debated on Tuesday 20 January 2015

We welcome the Colombian Government’s efforts to improve the human rights situation, including through their land restitution and victims reparations processes. There has been a worrying increase in the number of threats against human rights defenders and we continue to raise that with the Colombian Government.

I heard the Secretary of State’s response to an earlier question on human rights in Colombia and found it very disappointing. The UK is the second largest investor in Colombia, so does that not give us leverage in securing commitments from the Colombian Government to dealing with sexual violence in conflict, with trade unionists being locked up for being trade unionists and with human rights in general?

Yes, and we regularly use it. In fact, we pushed hard in negotiations with the EU, Colombia and Peru for a legally binding and robust human rights clause in the text of the EU-Andean free trade agreement. These matters are raised regularly in the House by followers of the situation in Colombia and I always argue the same, which is that I think that the big prize is the peace process. I am glad that that has kicked off again in Havana. I can also announce to the House that I have got the Colombian ambassador to agree to host a meeting for Members of both Houses on 10 March for a full discussion on all of our interests in Colombia. I am sure that the hon. Lady would like to come along to that and raise her questions with the ambassador.