Human Rights campaigners slam ‘tainted’ Colombian Foreign Minister

Justice For Colombia News | on: Tuesday, 9 January 2007
Original source: Justice for Colombia

Human rights campaigners slammed British Government ministers as the Colombian Foreign Secretary, Maria Consuelo Araujo, arrived in the UK amid a paramilitary scandal.

Araujo will be in the UK from Wednesday evening until Friday and will meet with Foreign Minister, Lord Triesman.

The meeting comes as the Foreign Secretary's brother, Alvaro Araujo, a pro-Government senator, faces a criminal investigation for his links with Colombia's extreme right wing paramilitary death squads. The investigation came after his name was found in documents recovered from the computer of paramilitary leader "Jorge 40". The main opposition parties have called for the Foreign Secretary's resignation in view of the scandal. In total seven pro-Government parliamentarians are under investigation.

The Colombian Government has one of the worst human rights records in Latin America. More murders of trade unionists in the world happen in Colombia than anywhere else in the world and the United Nations have documented regular collusion between the armed forces and paramilitaries. A communiqué from the national paramilitary group AUC called Colombian President Uribe "our candidate" prior to last year's elections.

Liam Craig-Best of the campaign group Justice for Colombia, said: "We are extremely concerned that UK ministers are showing such support for Uribe's Government. Several of Uribe's supporters in Parliament are now under investigation for links with paramilitary death squads, including the Foreign Secretary's own brother. Ministers should not be consorting with people who have links with mass murderers."

Jon Cruddas, Labour MP for Dagenham, said "I am very concerned that UK ministers will hold this meeting when the Colombian Foreign Secretary is facing calls for her resignation over a paramilitary scandal. The paramilitary groups in Colombia commit appalling crimes. I want Ministers to clarify whether they will be raising the key human rights questions if this meeting is to go ahead"

ENDS

For more information contact Liam Craig-Best on 0207 794 3644.

Notes for editors:

1. Justice for Colombia is an NGO campaigning for human and trade union rights in Colombia.

2. Senator Álvaro Araújo is currently under investigation for paramilitary links along with fellow pro-Government Senators Dieb Maloff, Luis Eduardo Vives y Mauricio Pimiento, and Representatives Jorge Luis Caballero and Alfonso Campo Soto.

3. A communiqué prior to the last election from the "armed wing of the ex-AUC" paramilitary group read: "The only road that is left to all Colombians is to give unconditional support to the policy of democratic security of our candidate President Dr Alvaro Uribe Velez." "el único camino que nos queda a todos los colombianos es apoyar incondicionalmente la política de seguridad democrática de nuestro candidato-presidente doctor Álvaro Uribe Vélez"



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