JFC Welcomes Howells’ Clarification

Justice For Colombia News | on: Sunday, 23 March 2008

Justice for Colombia has welcomed the clarification from Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells regarding his recent comments concerning JFC's alleged support for the FARC guerrilla group. In a letter sent to JFC President Brendan Barber, Dr Howells states "I do not believe that Justice for Colombia or British trade unions support the FARC."

Responding to widely expressed concerns that allegations of supporting the FARC could put Colombian trade unionists and human rights defenders who benefit from JFC projects at risk, Dr Howells also wrote that he "will make clear to my counterparts in the Colombian government and to the new Colombian Ambassador to the UK that I do not draw any links between Justice for Colombia and the FARC and that I intend to continue to work closely with British Trade Unions and their affiliated bodies to uphold the rights and security of trade unionists in Colombia."

The issue was raised at a meeting of the Labour Party National Executive Committee (NEC) on Thursday morning where Prime Minister Gordon Brown made it clear that the allegations were not Government policy.

Cath Speight, Vice-Chair of the NEC said, "I welcome the clarification from Gordon Brown and hope that Dr Howells will now also make it clear to the Colombian authorities that he does not believe that there is any link between JFC and the FARC. We will continue working to end UK military aid to the Colombian regime and for a more humanitarian focus to British policy towards Colombia."

NEC member Ellie Reeves added, "I am very pleased that Gordon made clear that the Government does not believe that Justice for Colombia supports the FARC. I recently met with him to discuss Colombia and I look forward to continuing working with the Government and groups such as JFC in an effort to improve the human rights situation there".

NEC member Mike Griffiths said "there is overwhelming support within the Labour Party and its NEC for Justice for Colombia's and its aims. NEC members who heard what the PM said on Thursday were pleased at the positive response. Quoting from the letter from Kim Howells Gordon Brown said that the minister was expressing regret and that there was a clear acceptance that Justice for Colombia was not in any way linked to FARC."

JFC Chair, Jeremy Dear, added "We are extremely pleased that the Minister has clarified his position. JFC rejects all violence and we look forward to continuing to work towards a positive change in British policy towards Colombia".

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