Parliamentarians Complain to Foreign Secretary Over Howells’ Remarks, Reiterate Support for JFC

Justice For Colombia News | on: Wednesday, 19 March 2008

On behalf of 147 of their colleagues in Parliament, four Labour MPs have written to the Foreign Secretary expressing their "anger" at comments made by Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells in which he attempted to link Justice for Colombia to the FARC guerrilla group in Colombia. The MPs also express their "unwavering support for JFC" and state their fear that the comments could have endangered the lives of people working in Colombia. Here, we have reproduced the letter in full.

Letter to the Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon David Milliband MP

19th March 2008

Dear David

As Chairs of the 147 strong Unite Parliamentary Group, we are writing to re-affirm our un-wavering support for the trade union campaign 'Justice for Colombia' (JFC). We find recent comments by the Foreign Office, which have more than suggested that Justice for Colombia supports terrorist groups in Colombia, unacceptable. We would like to put on record our anger at such comments and to re-state our ongoing support for the organisation.

JFC carries out invaluable work in raising awareness of the situation faced by trade unionists and other victims of the human rights crisis in Colombia. A statement by Justice for Colombia calling for a change in British Policy towards Colombia was published in the Guardian last September in JFC's name, and was signed by over 120 Labour MPs, every Labour MEP, and every member of the Labour Party NEC. The Vice President of Justice of Colombia is our own PLP Chair, Tony Lloyd MP.

In the past, comments attempting to link human rights organisations, trade unions and other civil society activists to terrorism in Colombia have led to numerous murders. Last week's comments can only have served to put in danger the brave individuals working on the ground in Colombia with funding from JFC and the British trade unions that work with them.

We utterly reject the allegation that JFC supports terrorism and hope that the Government too will make a clear statement of support for the ongoing efforts of the organisation.

Yours sincerely

Lindsay Hoyle MP, David Crausby MP, Terry Rooney MP, Ian Stewart MP

Co-Chairs of the Unite Parliamentary Group

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