Labour MP questions ministers on Colombia

Justice For Colombia News | on: Wednesday, 7 January 2015

5 January 2015

Kerry McCarthy (Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs); Bristol East, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will raise human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law in Colombia with his EU counterparts in discussions of EU-Colombia trade agreements.

Hugo Swire (The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office; East Devon, Conservative)

Our Embassy in Bogotá is part of the EU Human Rights Group, made up of all EU Member States with missions in Colombia and the European External Action Service. The group meets on a monthly basis in order to implement the Human Rights Strategy for Colombia, most recently on 2 December.

The EU Andean Free Trade Agreement aims to raise human rights standards and includes a legally binding clause allowing for revision of the agreement if Colombia does not comply with its human rights commitments. Colombia has responded to this with a 54 point action plan to reinforce its efforts to end impunity for human rights violations and to ensure its justice system is fully compliant with human rights law.

5 January 2015

Kerry McCarthy (Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs); Bristol East, Labour)

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, whether he raised human rights issues in relation to sexual violence against women with President Juan Manuel Santos in (a) Bogotá and (b) London; and if he will make a statement.

Nicholas Clegg (The Deputy Prime Minister , Lord President of the Council (Privy Council Office); Sheffield, Hallam, Liberal Democrat)

I discussed sexual violence against women when I met President Santos in November this year. I commended the leading role that the President had played in tackling sexual violence, including the recently announced day to commemorate Victims of Sexual Violence in Colombia. The prevention of sexual violence in conflict continues to form a core part of the British Embassy’s human rights work, and the Embassy in Bogotá is funding three related projects in 2014-15.

5 January 2015

Kerry McCarthy (Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs); Bristol East, Labour)

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, whether he raised human rights issues in relation to military justice, land rights and risks faced by human rights defenders with President Juan Manuel Santos in (a) Bogotá and (b) London; and if he will make a statement.

Nicholas Clegg (The Deputy Prime Minister , Lord President of the Council (Privy Council Office); Sheffield, Hallam, Liberal Democrat)

I met President Santos on 4 February in Bogotá. While in Colombia, I had meetings with former combatants, victims of the conflict and human rights groups. I raised human rights with President Santos, welcoming his commitment to act on abuse and provide an improved national framework. We discussed the security challenges faced by human rights defenders in the regions. I subsequently met President Santos on 7 November in London and welcomed the President’s commitment to protect human rights defenders. I urged the President to address the public threats some victims who supported the peace process had recently received.

7 January 2015

Kerry McCarthy (Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs); Bristol East, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what reports he has received on (a) collusion between members of the Colombian security forces and post-demobilisation paramilitary groups in the Uraba region and (b) attacks perpetrated by post-demobilisation paramilitary groups against (i) leaders of land restitution claims and (ii) other human rights defenders.

Tobias Ellwood (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Bournemouth East, Conservative)

In September 2014, British Officials in Bogotá attended a meeting between the Colombian Minister of the Interior and non-government organisations (NGOs) that work with the Curvaradó community in Urabá. The NGOs expressed concern about coalitions of local armed groups, business leaders, politicians and the military, who were blocking implementation of court orders, and threatening leaders and land restitution claimants. The NGO coalition ‘We are Defenders’ reported that during 2013 there were 78 murders of Human Rights Defenders of which 15 were carried out by paramilitary successor groups.

The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire), Minister for our relations with Colombia, raised concerns about this with his opposite numbers at the Colombian Foreign Ministry when he visited Bogotá last year. The British Embassy also raises these and other cases with Colombian authorities regularly.



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