The European Parliament strengthens human rights considerations and conditionality prior to the ratification of the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia and Peru

Press release
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FIDH welcomes the adoption by the European Parliament of a resolution which bridges human rights concerns with trade interests in the context of the adoption of a free trade agreement (FTA) between the European Union, Colombia and Peru. The resolution, which was adopted today, calls in particular for:

  • the establishment of a transparent, time-bound, results-based and binding road map on human, environmental and labour rights, linked to the entry into force of the draft EU-Colombia/Peru FTA;
  • the swift setting-up of an independent civil society group to monitor the implementation and impact of the FTA on human rights and democratic principles;
  • the development of responsible business practices in the application of the FTA

The resolution of the European Parliament is necessary as it calls for the measurement of the impact of the trade agreement with human rights as well as calls for responsible business practice in a context of increasing conflicts around investment projects, in particular in the extractive sectors in both Peru and Colombia.

In addition, the road-map will link the ratification of the Agreement with progress in the field of human rights. It is particularly welcomed against the backdrop of human rights violations committed in Colombia : Colombia continues to be the second country in the world with the greatest number of displaced persons and the country with the highest murder rate of trade unionists and indigenous every year. In 2011 only, twenty-nine trade unionists and 55 human rights defenders were murdered or victims of enforced disappearances. As of 2012, 11 human rights defenders have already been killed. Throughout the year 2011, it is estimated that almost 90,000 homes were displaced.

In this context, FIDH highlighted in particular the prolonged impunity of the crimes against humanity, notably the extrajudical executions, which form part of a State driven policy, a situation to which the European parliament made reference in calling for Colombian authorities to take “the necessary steps to end impunity, investigate, prosecute and punish in civil courts those most responsible both intellectually and materially for the crimes committed in Colombia”.

In developing the road map, FIDH calls EU and Colombian authorities to include among others the following commitments and benchmarks for the Colombian authorities:

  • to take the necessary measures to dismantle the new paramilitary groups, penalise the paramilitaries that applied for the Justice and Peace process without appearing in court, and to ensure that those that did not appear in court, do so ;
  • to sanction those at the highest levels who are intellectually responsible for extra-judicial executions – beyond lower ranking material offenders ;
  • to prevent from restoring military jurisdiction over human rights violations committed by the National Security Forces, and to withdraw bills which amplify the jurisdiction of military Courts;
  • to recognise publicly the legitimacy of the work done by human rights defenders, environmental activists and trade unionists; to take measures to sanction public servants who stigmatise them ; and to end all types of harassment – including at the judicial level – against them ;
  • to invite the United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide to monitor the situation of indigenous communities threatened of cultural or physical extermination;
  • to increase its efforts to address the serious problem of internal displacements and strengthen the full enjoyment of their human rights, as well as intensify the security measures for these communities

In a report published today entitled: “Colombia: the European Parliament can contribute to end the commission of international crimes and to respect the work of human rights defenders and trade unionists”, which had been presented during a seminar at the European Parliament co-sponsored by Members of the European Parliament of all the major political groups, FIDH explains more in details those commitments and benchmarks.

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