Violence in Colombia: DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE asks Canadian MPs not to ratify free trade accord

    MONTREAL, Oct. 23 /CNW Telbec/ - In the wake of the murders of three
indigenous partners by paramilitaries in Colombia, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE
Executive Director Michael Casey has urged Members of Parliament not to ratify
a Canada-Colombia free trade agreement.
    On October 6, Luz Marina Morales, Mauricio Largo Banol and Cesar Largo
Alarcon were murdered by a paramilitary group in Colombia and Maria Angelica
Alarcon was injured in the attack. All four are members of the Embera Chami
people who, like other indigenous groups in the country, oppose mining
activities on their ancestral lands. The Canadian mining company Colombia
Goldfields received a concession by the Colombian government to begin their
operations in the department of Caldas. The indigenous opposition to mining
activities has made them a target of paramilitary violence.
    "These recent murders are a reminder that legitimate opposition to mining
activities is impossible in Colombia," says Michael Casey. "Canada should be
warning companies against operating in conflict zones in Colombia, rather than
giving them the green light to set up shop in an environment where it is easy
to become complicit in human rights violations."
    DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE makes three recommendations to the MPs:

    1) Respond to the March 2007 report of the National Roundtables on
       Corporate Social Responsibility which gives recommendations to make
       Canadian companies accountable.
    2) Oppose the ratification of the Canada-Colombia Bilateral Free Trade
       Accord, until it can be guaranteed that Canadian companies will not be
       complicit in human rights violations.
    3) Press the Colombian authorities to investigate the murders of the
       three members of the Embera Chami community and to protect the lives
       of those that were threatened.

    "As representatives of the Canadian people, our MPs must make the
responsibility of Canadian companies a priority during their new mandate in
the House of Commons," adds Michael Casey.

For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Eleonore Fournier-Tombs, (514)
257-8711 ext. 307,

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