(IPS) – A delegation of seven British Labour members of parliament and 10 trade union leaders from the U.S., Canada and Britain said they were in a “state of shock” over what they heard during a week-long fact-finding mission to Colombia. In a strongly worded statement read out in Spanish at a press conference Wednesday in the Colombian Congress, the parliamentary and labour mission accused the government of right-wing President Álvaro Uribe of being an “accomplice of crimes against humanity.”
As you read the statement below be reminded of the New Labour leadership’s close relationship with the Uribe government (as a good US poodle) and Kim Howell’s smearing of Justice for Colombia that put lives in very real danger (ht2 Borev)-
The Justice for Colombia delegation of parliamentarians and trade unionists has returned home safely after an intense week in Colombia during which they met with a wide range of civil society representatives as well as with senior members of the Colombian Government, including President Alvaro Uribe. On their final day in Colombia the delegation held a press conference in the Colombian Congress which received extensive coverage in Colombia. At the press conference the delegation released the following statement.
PRESS STATEMENT: JUSTICE FOR COLOMBIA DELEGATION
We are a delegation of British Parliamentarians and British, American and Canadian trade unionists, and have spent seven days here in Colombia gathering information on human and labour rights abuses. We have met a wide range of individuals and groups across Colombian society, covering civil, political, legal and military interests, including trade unions, students and teachers, indigenous peoples, peasant farmers, trade union lawyers, human rights defenders, and former FARC hostages. We have travelled to Arauca province to hear the testimonials of communities and individuals caught up in the conflict in that part of the country. We visited Buon Pastor prison in Bogota and spoke to the women political prisoners incarcerated there; we also met with Martin Sandoval, imprisoned unjustly in Arauca. We had the opportunity in speaking also with senior members of Alvaro Uribe’s government and the President himself. We are grateful to all those individuals and groups who have generously given us their time.
We are shocked at what we have heard, and have no doubts on the evidence given that the Colombian government of Alvaro Uribe, and the security forces, are complicit in human rights crimes. We are convinced also that the murderous activities of the paramilitary forces are condoned and actively supported by the government and army. These crimes are aggravated by the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators and the failure of the legal system to prosecute the criminals and those who issue the orders.
Instead of imprisoning the real criminals, the Government has locked up trade unionists, members of the political opposition and human rights defenders like Martin Sandoval. We call for his immediate release and that of other political prisoners and trade unionists.
On our return to the United Kingdom and North America we will be calling for:
an immediate end to all military aid and support to the Colombian Government;
no Free Trade Agreements until human and labour rights are respected in an internationally verifiable way;
the public exposure of multinational companies, such as for their complicity in human and labour rights violations in Colombia;
an immediate end to the criminalisation of legitimate and democratic opposition, including Senator Piedad Cordoba, Senator Gloria Ramirez, Congressman Wilson Borja and Dr. Carlos Lozano and others;
support for dialogue, a peace process and a humanitarian exchange;
An end to extrajudicial executions and ‘false positives’ carried out by the Colombian army.
A full account of our findings and recommendations will be published in the near future.
Signatures Appended, Wednesday, 8 April 2009
List of Delegates
Ian Davidson MP: Member of Parliament for Glasgow;
David Drever: President of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS);
Simon Dubbins: Director of International Relations of Unite the Union and member of the Executive of the European TUC;
Sam Gurney: International Policy Officer for the TUC and member of the ILO Governing Body
Sally Hunt: General Secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), also a member of the Justice for Colombia National Committee and of both the TUC Executive and TUC General Council where she is spokesperson on international relations;
Peter Kilfoyle MP: Member of Parliament for Liverpool, former Government Minister;
Adam Lee: International Officer of the United Steelworkers (USW);
Andy Love MP: Member of Parliament for Edmonton, Parliamentary Private Secretary;
James McGovern MP: Member of Parliament for Dundee;
John O’Neill: Partner at Thompsons Solicitors;
Sandra Osborne MP: Member of Parliament for Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock, Member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee;
Stephanie Peacock: Member of the Labour Party National Executive Committee;
Frederick Redmond: International Vice President of the United Steelworkers (USW) and a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council;
Mark Rowlinson: Legal Officer of the United Steelworkers (USW);
Mick Shaw: President of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU);
James Sheridan MP: Member of Parliament for Paisley and Renfrewshire North;
Tony Woodhouse: Chair of the National Executive Committee of Unite the Union.