Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned on Wednesday that Colombia’s human rights record could prevent the passage of the long-awaited U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement.
Tom Malinowski, head of HRW’s Washington office, said that the FTA would not be passed by Congress until Colombia improved the human rights situation in the country. “There is a potential majority in the House to approve a trade deal with Colombia. But for that majority to materialize the government has to try to solve these problems rather than trying to spin its way out of them,” Malinowski said, reports Reuters.
“The House has approved trade pacts with countries, such as Jordan, that don’t have a pristine human rights record but that have addressed core U.S. concerns,” the NGO head continued.
His comments following the release of a damning HRW report on Wednesday morning, in which the NGO accused the Colombian government of doing too little to prevent the rise of violent new neo-paramilitary groups responsible for much bloodshed in the country.
The U.S.-Colombia FTA was signed by the two countries in 2006, but faces opposition from Democratic representatives due to concerns over labour rights, and human rights in general, in the Andean country. According to evidence given at a U.S. congressional hearing last year, more than 60% of all murders of trade unionists in the world take place in Colombia.