Press release from Parliamentary Friends of Colombia – for immediate release
Sixty-one MPs have today voted against a free trade agreement with Colombia, which has not fulfilled obligations on human rights.
This year, 37 human rights defenders have been murdered in the country and around 20 trade unionists. Sixteen of these were killed directly by the army and police during strike action over the summer. This week another peasant farmer was killed by the Colombian army.
The EU-Colombia Free Trade Agreement sets out standards for the protection of human rights on Colombia, but there is concern that authorities in the country are not upholding their obligations.
Jim Sheridan MP, who chairs the Justice for Colombia Parliamentary Group, said: “We must not walk on the other side when the rights of people around the world are being abused. With 60 per cent of all trade unionist murders in the world since 2000 having taken place in Colombia, I believe we should make a stand against the injustice in that country.”
Rob Flello MP, who is Secretary of the Group, said: “We cannot possibly sign up for further trade until we have some assurances that the mass human rights abuses will stop. Our Democrat colleagues in the US Congress have already highlighted their concerns and by voting against this agreement we can show the world that the UK does not accept this type of behaviour.”
For more information contact Siobhan Foster on 020 7219 8314.
Notes to Editors
- Jim Sheridan is MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North and is Chair of the Justice for Colombia Parliamentary Group. Rob Flello is MP for Stoke-on-Trent South and is Secretary of the group.
- The vote took place today as a deferred division on the motion: ‘That the draft European Union (Definition of Treaties) (Colombia and Peru Trade Agreement) Order 2013, which was laid before this House on 21 October, be approved’. This is the UK vote on the EU-Colombia free trade agreement. The result of the vote was 333 votes in favour and 61 against.
- US Democrats published this report, ‘The U.S. – Colombia Labor Action Plan: Failing on the Ground’ in October 2013: http://democrats.edworkforce.house.gov/sites/democrats.edworkforce.house.gov/files/documents/Colombia%20trip%20report%20-%2010.29.13%20-%20formatted%20-%20FINAL.pdf