A human rights commission in the House of the Representatives will hear testimony this Thursday from the United States government, NGOs, think tanks, and members of civil society on the state of human rights in Colombia.
The bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission will discuss the ongoing peace talks in Havana, Cuba, between Colombia’s largest rebel group FARC and the government, the development of land restitution programs, and labor rights issues, according to the hearing brief.
“As Colombian and international observers look with hope to the ongoing peace negotiations between the Colombian government and Colombia’s largest guerrilla organization, a number of human rights issues remain critical,” said the hearing brief.
“The hearing will address the status of labor rights, obstacles to land restitution efforts, and recommendations on effective mechanisms for transitional justice.”
Since 1985, 4.8 million Colombians have been displaced from their homes, generating the world’s largest population of internally displaced people, according to an investigation performed by the Human Rights Watch (HRW).
In 2012, Colombia began to implement the Victims and Land Restitution Law, which aims to return millions of acres of abandoned and stolen land to internally displaced persons who fled their homes over the past two decades.
The HRW investigation revealed that during efforts to return to their homes and reclaim their property, many of these displaced citizens have received death threats, intimidation, and some have even been murdered.
Labor rights will be another topic of the panel, as testimonies discuss the efficacy of the The Labor Action Plan, which is an attempt to protect labor leaders from intimidation and murder.
While murders of labor leaders has declined, according to HRW the rate is still high: 51 trade unionists were murdered in 2010, 30 in 2011, and 12 from January to September 15, 2012. The National Labor School claims that there were 539 threats against union leaders in 2011, and 255 between January and September 15, 2012.
The panels will be co-chaired by James P. McGovern (D-Mass.) and Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.).
The live stream will be available here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/hclive19
- Creating Peace and Finding Justice in Colombia
- Congresistas de EE.UU. hablarán esta semana sobre DD.HH. en Colombia (Caracol Radio)
- Human Rights Watch – World Report Colombia