The United States fails to enforce human rights conditions imposed on aid to Colombia, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Sunday.
In its World Report 2012, the human rights organization stated that Washington “provided approximately US$562 million in aid, about 61 percent of which was military and police aid. Thirty percent of US military aid is subject to human rights conditions, which the US Department of State has not enforced.”
The report also criticized the U.S. for failing to “address the paramilitary successor groups believed to be responsible for a large portion of anti-union violence,” as promised in the April 2011 Labor Action Plan. Improving the situation of labor rights for Colombian workers was a condition for the Democrats to ratify the free trade agreement with the South American country.
While stressing Colombia remains the most dangerous country for labor rights workers, HRW did recognize a sharp drop in the killing of unionists in 2011.
“51 trade unionists were murdered in 2008, 47 in 2009, 51 in 2010, and 26 from January to November 15, 2011, according to the National Labor School (ENS), Colombia’s leading NGO monitoring labor rights,” said the human rights organization.
Colombian authorities failed to successfully prosecute the perpetrators of threats and violence against labor rights workers, said HRW.
The Prosecutor General’s Office unit created to decrease impunity for labor rights-related crimes “has made virtually no progress in obtaining convictions for recent killings. Of the more than 195 trade unionist killings that have occurred since the sub-unit started operating in 2007, the special office had obtained convictions in only six cases as of May 2011. It had not obtained a single conviction for the more than 60 homicide attempts, 1,500 threats, and 420 forced displacements reported by the ENS during this period,” said the report.
“The FARC especially is often involved in killings, threats, forced displacement, and recruiting and using child soldiers,” said the human rights group, adding, “However, paramilitary successor groups continue to grow, maintain extensive ties with public security force members and local officials, and commit widespread atrocities.