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Trade Agreement EU-Colombia, Perú, Ecuador: minimal positive impact on Human and Labour Rights, Peace and Environment in Colombia


Report elaborated by Oidhaco in collaboration with Catapa for the evaluation by the EU Commission of the Trade Agreement.


 

1.       Introduction

Concerns have been raised by civil society organisations about the negotiation process for the Trade Agreement between the European Union, Colombia and Peru and its approval in the European Council and European Parliament. These organisations questioned the idea of signing a Trade Agreement with two countries with a history of human rights violations. In Colombia, the extent of the extrajudicial killing of civilians committed by the armed forces was just coming to light. Most of these killings were committed between 2002 and 2008, encouraged by State policies, leaving between 2,000 and 10,000 civilians dead. Moreover, it had only recently come to light that the state intelligence services (DAS) had been spying for years on human rights defenders, journalists, high court magistrates, members of the Colombian Congress, trade unionists and that, in some cases, the information obtained was used to commit assassinations of these people in coordination with paramilitary groups. There had also been reports of high murder rates against trade unionists: from 1973 to 2013, 3,095 trade unionists had been murdered in Colombia  and thousands had suffered other attacks, such as threats, enforced disappearance, etc. In the first decade of the 2000s, 5,664,952 victims of the armed conflict were registered, more than half of the total victims (1981-2020), according to the Single Registry of Victims (Registro Único de Víctimas). Most of these are people who have been forcibly displaced. This is in the context in which the Trade Agreement with Colombia was negotiated.

Responding to the concerns expressed by organisations and also by the European Parliament, Commissioner Karel de Gucht argued that fostering more trade relations with Colombia and Peru was the best way to promote respect for human rights in these countries. He also argued that Colombia was truly aspiring to put an end to its “history of violence and despair” despite the fact that the Uribe Government of the time was engaged in armed confrontation with guerrilla groups. The European Union did not support the AUC demobilisation process because it did not offer guarantees for victims’ rights and was not effective: in Colombian regions “new” paramilitary groups were rearming, and while they may have been diverse in nature depending on the region, in some areas they only changed their name, but not their modus operandi. The Commissioner made a definite commitment, in which he determined that the Trade Agreement would be used to promote and ensure respect for human rights, democracy and the law, as much as possible.

We would therefore like to consider the following questions:

Has the Trade Agreement been used to positively influence the situation of human rights, labour rights and the environment in Colombia? Has it had a positive impact on the human rights situation? Has progress been made in measures against impunity?

Has the Trade Agreement had any negative impacts on human rights, labour rights and the environment? If so, could the mechanisms of the Trade Agreement be used to intervene?

 

 

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Omar Rojas Bolaños, Ejecuciones extrajudiciales en Colombia 2002–2010: Obediencia ciega en campos de batalla ficticios.

El director del DAS Jorge Noguera fue condenado por el homicidio de Afredo Correa de Andréis, asesinado por el paramilitar Jorge 40. https://www.fiscalia.gov.co/colombia/noticias/condenado-ex-director-del-das-jorge-noguera-cote/

El ex sub director del DAS José Miguel Narváez fue condenado por el homicidio de Jaime Garzón, periodista y actor, asesinado por el jefe paramilitar Carlos Castaño. https://www.eltiempo.com/justicia/jep-colombia/exsubdirector-del-das-condenado-por-homicidio-de-jaime-garzon-ira-a-la-comision-de-verdad-470370

Escuela Nacional Sindical. En 2019 siguió la violencia antisindical en Colombia. Estas son las cifras. 10 de diciembre 2019. Cifras hasta el 5 de diciembre 2019.

Unidad de Víctimas. Registro Único de Víctimas. https://cifras.unidadvictimas.gov.co/Cifras/#!/infografia

2001-2005:  3 477 756, 2006-2010: 2 187 196 [ultimo acceso 14/7/2020]

European Commission (2010). Statement by the European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht on the EU Trade Agreement with Colombia and Peru. Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/SPEECH_10_101 (last accessed: 09/07/2020)

European Commission (2010). Statement by the European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht on the EU Trade Agreement with Colombia and Peru. Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/SPEECH_10_101 (last accessed: 09/07/2020)

 

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