Colombia backs rights monitoring in EU trade deal

Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzon on Monday expressed his support for a commission to monitor human rights and environmental issues as part of the free trade agreement between the European Union and Colombia, reported newscast CM&.

Garzon emphasized the importance of the trade agreement for “both Colombia and the European Union” and said that Colombia backed the creation of a commission to monitor human rights, and environmental and labor standards in the country.

“The enforcement of this provision is a vital point in the development of the agreement” Garzon stated.

The clause states that the breach of these standards would lead to suspension of the pact, but civil society groups and NGOs have been critical of the clause, saying it is too weak..

Garzon argued that “every day there are more voices in favor” of the agreement, and “more understanding by civil society.”

Garzon also reiterated that Colombia will make the information found on the computer of killed FARC commander “Mono Jojoy” available to EU countries, saying that the government recognized allegations of ties between the FARC and ETA, and would work with Spanish authorities on the matter.

Gilles de Kerchove, the EU counter-terrorism coordinator confirmed the full support of the EU against terrorism in Colombia, saying that the EU has zero tolerance for terrorism, while stressing the importance of Colombia’s commitment to human rights.

The free trade agreement, which was signed in May, still needs to be approved by the European Parliament and Colombia’s Congress.

Protests from human rights groups have delayed the agreement’s passage through the European Parliament. The deal has already gone through a long series of administrative steps, including the translation into all 23 languages of the European Union

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