Colombia remains the world’s deadliest country for trade unionists in 2023, according to the International Trade Union Confederation’s annual Global Rights Index, published this week. This continues Colombia’s longstanding record of appalling anti-union violence, with more than 3,200 trade unionists murdered between 1971 and 2018. However, for the first time in more than five years, Colombia is no longer listed among the ten worst countries for overall worker rights and conditions.
The Global Rights Index finds that Colombia was one of several countries where trade union leaders were arrested under spurious charges, while trade unionists were also denied access to a fair trial through ‘disregard for due process and a lack of impartiality.’ The ITUC research shows a worrying trend in growing state repression or targeting of organised labour, as violence against working people rise from 43 per cent of countries in 2022 to 48 per cent in 2023.
Colombia was one of eight countries where trade unionists were murdered, alongside Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eswatini, Guatemala, Peru and Sierra Leone. Six of those countries are in Latin America, where the ITUC finds workers face increasing degradation of their rights. Unlike in previous years, the ITUC does not provide information on how many trade unionists were murdered in Colombia during the period, with 22 cases registered in its 2021 report and 13 cases in 2022. However, as JFC has consistently highlighted, murders of trade unionists have continued to take place on a regular basis.