Source : Justice For Colombia News
The European Parliamentary Labour Party today took the principled decision to vote with their conciences and vote no the EU-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. JFC has congratulated the EPLP on their decision to support trade union and human rights in Colombia and back the JFC led campaign to block the trade agreement on human rights grounds. Below is the EPLP’s press notice.
For more information visit http://www.eurolabour.org.uk/
OPPRESSION OF TRADE UNIONISTS LEADS TO LABOUR REJECTION OF TRADE AGREEMENT
Labour MEPs today voted against a Free Trade Agreement with Colombia and Peru because of the human rights situation for trade unionists in Colombia.
Colombia has been described by Amnesty International as ’the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists’, last year alone 35 union members were assassinated there.
"It’s unacceptable to conclude a trade agreement when the human rights situation remains so dangerous" said David Martin MEP, Labour spokesperson for International Trade.
"The Colombian government is desperate to show its commitment to protecting human rights defenders and prosecute perpetrators, but we have yet to see serious changes on the ground," he said.
The Free Trade Agreement was ratified by the European Parliament this afternoon and will come into effect after it has been endorsed by each Member State national government.
"I regret that the Parliament gave its consent to this agreement now" said David Martin. "Our trade relations should never be at the expense of human rights."
At the initiative of the Socialist and Democrat Group, of which Labour MEPs are a member, the Colombian and Peruvian governments have submitted "Human Rights Road Maps" to lay out their proposals to improve the protection of human rights defenders.
"I welcome the Road Maps which will contribute towards Colombia’s progress. However it would have been preferable to allow more time to chart its progress" said David Martin.
Richard Howitt MEP, who speaks for Labour MEPs on Human Rights, said "it’s with a heavy heart that Labour would ever vote against trade agreements, as they help create economic growth in developing countries.
"We’re usually able to vote with our Socialist Group colleagues in Strasbourg, but on this occasion as Labour MEPs and trade unionists we felt that we simply cannot support a trade agreement with a country that has such an appalling record on trade union rights.
"There’s no way we could ever support an agreement with a country whose government has allowed such intimidation, threats and murder of trade unionists until we saw serious change.
"Labour MEPs simply voted to delay today’s vote in order to give Colombia more time to successfully implement its Road Map on human rights.
"Unfortunately our request was defeated, and sadly the European Parliament voted by a large majority to endorse the trade agreement," Mr Howitt said.
Notes for Editors
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