Colombia “is a victim of narcoterrorism, not its perpetrator,” its European ambassador told an audience in Brussels Monday.
Speaking two days after the death of 11 Colombian soldiers in an alleged FARC attack, Rodrigo Rivera told a European Parliament (EP) commission, “While we meet here, Colombia today cries over the vile murders of 11 Colombian military,” killed by “the FARC narcoterrorist organization.”
The diplomat claimed guerrillas were those “mainly responsible for human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law in Colombia during almost 50 years” — a statement directly contradicting United Nations and human rights groups organizations estimates that paramilitaries have been responsible for at least 70 to 80% of all killings during Colombia’s armed conflict, with 12% carried out by guerrillas and 8% by government forces.
Events like the recent military murders demonstrated the need for the human rights clause included in the recently-endorsed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Colombia and the European Union (EU), said Rivera.
The Latin America coordinator for the International Federation of Human Rights, Jimena Reyes, told the committee that human rights clauses were “essential” in all agreements negotiated with the EU, reported newspaper El Colombiano.
The real challenge is making sure they are implemented, he said. Reyes pleaded with the EP, which will have the final say on whether the FTA comes into effect, to “adopt a firm position while grave human rights violations, and lack of will of the Colombian government, persist.”