Colombia’s Interior and Justice Ministry has pledged to offer protection to 700 additional union members, various media reported Monday.
The new protection scheme will be implemented before April 22, a deadline agreed upon with the U.S. government after which the Obama administration will begin the process that must lead to the approval of a free trade agreement between the two countries.
The extended security measures will guarantee increased protection for those union members and activists who have received threats against them due to the nature of their work.
By May 20, a plan will also be in place to increase the number of prosecutors and investigators working on cases involving threats made to union members.
In order to fairly apportion the latest program, the government will assess the risks posed to unionists, and the threats they have received, before allocating protective services accordingly. Protection will only be afforded to those currently working as unionists, not to those who have left their posts.
Accoding to the government, it currently offers protection programs to 11,000 unionists and the new scheme will be supported by the police and the private sector.
The U.S. refused the ratify the FTA since 2006 due to concerns over Colombia’s failure to adequately protect its union members.