Labour Party votes to support peace process in Colombia

Labour Party votes to support peace process in Colombia

London, 29 September 2014

The annual Labour Party conference has voted unanimously in favor of a bilateral ceasefire and has called for the release of imprisoned trade unionists and Colombian civil society activists. The motion, approved by the congress, also calls for Britain´s aid to focus on human rights and peace instead of military aid. The Labour Party, currently in opposition, is favourite to win the 2015 General Election.

The motion, which was approved unanimously, gives a significant show of support for the peace process and congratulates the Colombian government and the FARC for their commitment as well as for including the victims of the conflict in the talks. At the same time the party regrets that social activists continue to be attacked and imprisoned and makes a commitment to push for a bilateral ceasefire.

The motion was approved after passionate speeches from political leaders, with the plenary session of the congress welcoming the politician Aida Avella with a standing ovation lasting several minutes.

Ms. Avella spoke together with Ian Lavery MP and the Associate Editor of the Guardian, Seumas Milne, at a fringe event organised by the British organisation Justice for Colombia. At the event the need for a bilateral ceasefire and international support for the peace process was emphasised once again.

The conference which took place in Manchester, England played host to 10,000 visitors and is where the principal policies of the Labour Party is decided.

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Below follows the text of the motion:

Conference welcomes the historic meetings of August 16th and September 10th between the Colombian Government, the FARC and victims of the conflict, and recognises this momentous move – giving victims an active role in the Colombian peace process.

Conference further welcomes the continued progress of the peace talks between the Colombian Government and the FARC and their continued commitment to the talks.

Conference recognises the brave work of civil society organisations supporting the peace process, despite opposition to the talks from certain sectors of Colombian society.

Conference condemns, however, that members of civil society organisations continue to face death threats, imprisonment, such as trade union leader Huber Ballesteros, and assassinations, with impunity still dominating in the majority of cases. Last year saw the highest number of human rights defenders killed for a decade whilst the Patriotic March, Colombia’s largest civil society organisation, has had over fifty members killed since it’s founding.

Conference calls for:

An immediate end to all persecution of trade unionists, activists and other human rights defenders in Colombia.

Britain to urge the Colombian Government to ensure that crimes committed against civil society activists are investigated fully and that imprisoned trade unionists and other civil society activists not responsible are freed.

The Labour Party to support a non partisan peace process with civil society involvement.

The Labour Party to encourage the parties to the conflict to agree to a bilateral ceasefire.

Conference believes Britain should be improving assistance to Colombia with support focused on improving human rights and a successful peace process.

Labour will continue to support the work of the trade union’s campaign; ‘Justice for Colombia’.