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Free Trade Agreements between the European Union and Columbia and Peru

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Motions\Environment\Waste management\regulations

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Motions\Free Trade Agreements between the European Union and Columbia and Peru

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Free Trade Agreements between the European Union and Columbia and Peru\Motion
Environment\Waste management\regulations
Motions\Free Trade Agreements between the European Union and Columbia and Peru
Motions\Environment\regulations\Waste management

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Free Trade Agreements between the European Union and Columbia and Peru

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Snippet Contents:

This is the second parliament in which I have debated this agreement. The European Parliament passed this free trade agreement more than two years ago against my opposition and - it should be noted - the opposition of all the Labour Party MEPs who voted against it. Those who voted in favour of it, particularly other Social Democrat MEPs, were influenced by the fig leaf that was on offer, in the form of a roadmap or action plan on human rights, and by the non-binding Article 2 of the agreement, which refers to human rights. They said that the situation would improve, that the free trade agreement would raise all boats, that the values of human rights, etc., would spread and that the agreement would benefit trade unionists and others in Colombia. There is no longer a need to speculate on whether these things will happen. We have the evidence because the time has passed. The evidence clearly says that these things have not happened. The human rights situation in Colombia has not improved. The free trade agreement, which is being provisionally implemented, has bolstered the Colombian Government as it continues to stand over human rights abuses. In August 2013, at least nine striking activists were murdered by the Colombian police and army during protests against free trade agreements with the United States and Canada. The UN denounced the unfounded accusations made by the Colombian Government to the effect that armed groups were behind these protests.
Colombia remains the most dangerous place on earth for trade unionists. More than 100 human rights defenders and trade unionists have been killed there since the implementation of the free trade agreement. Massive displacement of indigenous people, particularly by extractive industries, is continuing to take place. Justice is an extremely rare commodity in Colombia, with impunity rates remaining at more than 90% after a legacy of conflict. We can read the evidence given by a former police chief, Mr. Santoyo, in the courts in the US when he was convicted of assisting paramilitary organisations. He testified that he helped the Colombian death squads to identify victims to be killed and to escape without getting caught. He was the head of the police for President Uribe at the time this deal was negotiated with the European Commission. Every trade union confederation that has a connection to this issue, including the Central Union of Workers in Colombia, the International Trade Union Confederation, the European Trade Union Confederation and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, has campaigned strongly against the agreement. We have a chance here. We are voting on it in this Parliament because it has been identified by the EU as a mixed agreement. If it was a regular international trade agreement, we would not even have a vote. It is because we have a vote that this Parliament and every other parliament in the EU have the ability to stop it and thereby send a very powerful message. If the Labour Party were to take the same position here that it took in the European Parliament, it would come in here today and vote against this agreement. That would be a powerful signal. We have a choice between putting human rights and workers' rights first and putting the profits of big business first.