NGOs slam EU-Colombia trade deal

A group of European NGOs declare that the human rights clause in the E.U.-Colombia free trade agreement is “insufficient,” and claim that the European Parliament lied about the nature of the agreement.

According to ABC, several NGOs including the The International Office for Human Rights – Action on Colombia, Seattle-to-Brussels Network, Linking Alternatives, Grupo Sur, and Via Campesina, claim that the Spanish government, which currently heads the E.U., and the European Commission “lied” about the nature of the clause. The NGOs believe the cause should have contained strong mechanisms for monitoring human rights, allowing the pact to be suspended in the event of a violation.

These civil society organizations believe that the human rights clause does not go further than those that are standard in a trade deal.

They claim that the European Parliament “consistently lied” about the clause, which they say should have been stronger.

The organizations released a statement on the eve of Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzon’s visit to Brussels saying that “Garzon’s statements that Colombia will allow the E.U. to monitor human rights, and that the country has maintained its democratic institutions is a farce and has no credibility.”

In Colombia “institutional impunity is around 99%,” according to the statement, and the country has seen murders of trade unionists, community leaders, indigenous people and farmers continue, as well as the disappearance of civilians, forced displacement, and torture by the military.

They call for the European Parliament not to pass the treaty, which is a necessary for the pact to be enacted fully. The agreement was signed in May, but protests from human rights groups and members of the E.U. Parliament have delayed its passage.

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