CUPW Calls for a Real Commitment to Human Rights in Colombia

OTTAWA, March 31 /CNW Telbec/ - "A Liberal proposal that would fast-track the passage of a free trade agreement with Colombia does nothing to protect the human rights of people in Colombia and ignores a parliamentary commitment to perform an independent human rights impact assessment" said Denis Lemelin, National President of the Canadian Union Postal Workers.

"In 2009, 45 trade unionists in Colombia were killed. The Liberal proposal to allow the Colombian Government to monitor their own human rights violations won't protect trade unionists. The Colombian Government needs to stop these killings, instead of writing reports about them", Lemelin stated.

"Human rights assessments done by the Colombian Government will lack credibility and impartiality. We need an independent Human rights Impact assessment to protect human rights in Colombia."

In the House of Commons, Liberal trade critic Scott Brison proposed an amendment to the Canada-Colombia FTA to include post-ratification annual rights assessments performed by each government. This Liberal proposal flip-flops on a previous commitment in June 2008 of the all-party Commons Committee on International Trade, that the free trade agreement should not be ratified until an independent human rights impact assessment can be carried out first.

Recent UN and Amnesty International reports show escalating violence against Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, including murder and forcible displacement from communal lands. "Our Government should not sanction this violence by signing the Canada Colombia free trade agreement", Lemelin said.

"Canada entering into a free trade agreement with Colombia now sends the wrong message to Canadians and the Colombian regime. The human rights of Colombians should take priority over a trade deal."

SOURCE Canadian Union of Postal Workers

For further information: For further information: Aalya Ahmed, Communications Specialist (CUPW), (613) 236-7238, ext.7987

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