All Irish MEPs support David Begg's demand to suspend the negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Colombia.
Issued on October 30, 2009 at 11:51 AM
Ireland is the first EU country in which all MEPs have taken a united position on this issue.
- "The atrocious human rights situation in Colombia has to be addressed. The proposed Free Trade Agreement would give special trade benefits to a government that has repeatedly failed to implement their international obligations including basic human and trade union rights", said David Begg who added that he is extremely pleased that all twelve Irish MEPs have co-signed a letter to EU Trade Commissioner Baroness Ashton asking her to suspend the negotiations with Colombia.
- "Ireland is the only country in the European Union where we have united all the elected representatives in the European Parliament behind this important demand. We are also calling for the launch of an open EU investigation into Colombia's labour and human rights performance", added Begg.
More than 30 trade unionists killed this year
The assassinations of trade unionists in Colombia continue at a rate unseen in any other country. According to the International Trade Union Confederation's Annual Report, of 76 trade unionists assassinated in 2008, 49 were Colombians and nearly 30 have already been assassinated this year. Those responsible for the murders - sometimes including members of the state security forces - continue to act with almost complete impunity whilst a large number of the murders are not even being investigated by the Colombian authorities.
Similar trade agreements between Colombia and Canada, Colombia and the EFTA group of countries and Colombia and the United States have all been delayed owing to human rights concerns, with President Obama himself publicly citing anti-trade union attacks as the principle reason for his opposition to the deal.
"It must be made clear to the Colombian regime that the EU and its Member States do not condone the current situation in the country. Therefore the EU Free Trade Agreement negotiations with Colombia have to be suspended immediately" said Mr Begg.