Colombia’s interior minister detailed the country’s advances in terms of human rights to high-ranking officials at the European Union in Brussels Tuesday with a view to move a free trade pact with Europe forward.
Interior Minister German Vargas Lleras said he was invited to the Brussels to explain the progress in view of the pending ratification of the trade agreement that the E.U. and Colombia signed in May 2010 and is awaiting ratification by the European Parliament and Colombia’s Congress.
The agreement includes a suspension clause if one of the parties does not comply with human rights or environmental laws. Vargas Lleras met with members of the Political and Security Committee and the Committee for Latin America as well as the European Counterterrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove.
The minister explained the application of the Victims and Land Restitution Law, which seeks to give reparations to four million victims of the conflict by 2014 and give back more than nearly five million acres of land illegally appropriated by illegal armed groups.
Vargas also added “not a single [person]” of the 10,200 in the government program for the protection of human rights defenders, journalists, union leaders and demobilized troops has died so far this year. Of these people, 300 have “strong protection” which means they have armored cars and bodyguards.