Colombia was the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists in 2009, with 40 assassinated over the year, it was revealed at the Second National Meeting on Anti-Trade Unionist Violence held in Medellin Thursday.
Families of assassinated trade unionists, human rights defenders, UN representatives and NGOs attended the meeting, EFE reported.
The director of Colombia’s Confederation of Workers’ (CUT), Department of Human Rights and Solidarity Alberto Vanegas said that 60% of murdered trade unionists in the world are Colombian.
Since CUT was founded in 1986, it has recorded 2,721 murders of trade unionists, 573 of which occured since August 2002 when Colombian President Alvaro Uribe was elected.
“More than just a statistic, this is a movement of trade unionist genocide,” Vanegas said at the opening of the meeting.
Luciano Sanin, the director of ENS, another trade union movement based in Medellin, illustrated the magnitude of the problem with the example that Brazil, a country which has 20 times more trade unionists than Colombia, only had four trade unionist murders in 2009.
Colombia has a “historically violent and selective system” and is “especially anti-trade unionist,” said Sanin, adding that the International Labor Organization receives the most calls from Colombians concerned about failures to comply with labor legislation, and about the liberty of trade unions to practice.
“This is one aspect of a systematic policy of violation of human rights,” Vanegas said, adding that the murders’ impunity from justice is a major problem.
98% of murders of trade unionists in Colombia, and 100% of other human rights abuses against trade unionists, have gone unpunished, according to CUT.