Sunday, September 07, 2008

Over 2,500 trade union members have been murdered in Columbia since 1986, including 41 so far this year, by right wing paramilitary organizations. The Colombian government has done far less than it claims to halt these murders. Here is a story from Amnesty International Canada about one such case and a petition to the Colombian Attorney General to both protect the individual involved and also to dismantle the death squads.

Javier Correa: Defending the human rights of workers amidst enormous danger:
Javier Correa is a leader of SINALTRAINAL, a union that represents food workers. In recent years, SINALTRAINAL has been involved in a number of labour disputes, often with large multinational companies. The union has taken legal action in US courts, alleging that personnel of Colombian bottling plants under licence for Coca Cola were implicated in killings and other human rights violations against trade unionists by paramilitaries. Working with other human rights defenders, Javier and his union also continue to be at the forefront of public protests against the involvement of state security forces and army-backed paramilitaries in grave abuses.

There is a heavy price to pay for such actions. Javier Correa lives in constant fear of attack, in a country where more than 2,500 members of trade unions have been killed since 1986. Already this year, 41 trade unionists have been murdered, according to the Colombian Confederation of Trade Unions. Some victims bore marks of torture.

Please sign Amnesty’s e-petition to Colombia’s Attorney General in support of Javier Correa and other trade union activists in Colombia
737 signatures have been added to the petition. Click here to view petition signatures.

Dr. Mario Germán Iguarán Arana
Fiscal General de la Nación, Fiscalía General de la Nación
Diagonal 22B (Av. Luis Carlos Galán No. 52-01) Bloque C, Piso 4
Bogotá, Colombia
Dear Dr. Iguarán Arana,
I write to express my concern for the safety of Javier Correa of the food workers union SINALTRAINAL. Mr. Correa continues to receive alarming death threats from paramilitary groups, despite your government’s claim that paramilitaries have been successfully demobilized.

I am glad to know the Colombian government offers a protection program for trade unionists.

However, the increase this year in assassinations of trade union leaders shows that the protection program is far from sufficient.

I call on you to ensure that death threats made against Javier Correa and other members of SINALTRAINAL, as well as other Colombian trade unions, are properly investigated, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice as quickly as possible.

I also urge you to take decisive action to confront and dismantle paramilitary groups, as well as to investigate and break their links with state security forces, in line with repeated UN recommendations.

Please keep me informed about the steps you take to respond to my concerns. The actions you take or do not take to protect Javier Correa and his colleagues are a litmus test of enormous interest in Canada, given that the controversial new Canada-Colombia free trade agreement awaits debate in Parliament.
I hope I can count on your active support to protect the right to freedom of association and expression.
To sign the petition go to the Amnesty Website or to THIS LINK

No comments: