Call for peace and respect for human rights in Colombia

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Demonstrators for peace in Bogota, Colombia

Forty-seven Canadian civil society organizations including Inter Pares released a joint statement regarding the Colombian peace process:

Canadian organizations call for unequivocal commitment to peace and respect for human rights in Colombia

Ottawa, September 20, 2019

On the eve of the International Day of Peace, the undersigned Canadian organizations are joining to express their profound concern over an escalating human rights crisis in Colombia and continued threats to the Colombian peace process.

In 2016, a historic peace agreement was reached between the Government of Colombia and the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC), with great hope of bringing an end to 52 years of armed conflict. Less than one month ago, the peace process was dealt a serious blow when several former commanders and now dissidents of the demobilized FARC announced their return to arms. They cited a lack of compliance by the Colombian state with the peace agreement and the systematic killing of social leaders and demobilized FARC members.

By all accounts, President Duque and his political party have systematically undermined the peace agreement. They have consistently underfunded several of its key components, openly attacked the transitional justice system, and moved slowly on reintegration of ex-combatants into civilian life. Disturbingly, they have promoted and enacted legislation that is in direct opposition to the agreement, in particular with respect to the provisions related to agrarian reform and rural development – issues that gave rise to the armed conflict and that are vital to a sustained peace. Prodded by the United States administration, the Duque government has also abandoned the agreements related to crop substitution. All of these measures have had a disproportionate impact on rural women, Indigenous and Afro-Colombian populations.

We are deeply concerned that little or no action has been taken to constrain paramilitary death squads that continue to threaten and kill community leaders with impunity. Since the peace agreement was signed in September 2016, at least 700 social movement leaders and 142 demobilized insurgents have been murdered1. During the same period, an additional 260,000 Colombians were forcibly displaced2, bringing the total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Colombia to approximately 7.8 million – the highest number of IDPs in the world3. In June of this year the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial Executions, Agnes Callamard, called on the Colombian government to “cease inciting violence” against demobilized FARC members4

As Canadian organizations, we reiterate our solidarity with the people of Colombia and their desire to build a country where peace and justice prevail, and where deeply entrenched political, economic and social inequalities are addressed. We share their conviction that the peace agreement is an important step in this process and that it must be vigorously defended.

We call on the Government of Canada to use its close relationship with Colombia to:

  • Speak out forcefully to condemn the killings and the dangerous backsliding on implementation of the peace agreement.
  • Press the Colombian government to uphold its obligations to protect the lives and rights of social leaders, human rights defenders and demobilized insurgents.
  • Press the Colombian government to comply with its obligations under the peace agreement and to advance without further delay on its full implementation.
  • Insist on the resumption of the negotiation table between the National Government and the ELN guerrilla, understanding that the only way out of the conflict is through dialogue.

We urge the Government of Canada to redouble its political and economic support for peacebuilding initiatives in Colombia and ensure that Canadian trade and investment interests in Colombia are in no way undermining the peace process.

  1. Americas Policy Group / Groupe d'orientation politique des Amériques
  2. Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale
  3. Avocats sans frontières Canada
  4. Basilian Centre for Peace and Justice
  5. British Columbia Teachers' Federation
  6. British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union
  7. Centre Oblat – A Voice for Justice
  8. Canadian Association of University Teachers
  9. Canadian Jesuits International
  10. Canadian Labour Congress
  11. Canadian Peace Congress
  12. Canadian Union of Postal Workers
  13. Canadian Union of Public Employees
  14. Centre international de solidarité ouvrière
  15. Christian Peacemaker Teams - Canada
  16. Christian Peacemaker Teams - Colombia
  17. Defendamos la Paz internacional
  18. CoDevelopment Canada
  19. Colombia Action Solidarity Alliance
  20. Colombia Working Group
  21. Centrale des syndicats du Québec
  22. Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine
  23. Common Frontiers
  24. Development and Peace - Caritas Canada
  25. Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec
  26. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada
  27. Fondation Salvador Allende Montréal
  28. Latino Group HOLA
  29. Horizons of Friendship
  30. Inter Pares
  31. Justice, paix et intégrité de la création
  32. KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
  33. Latin American & Caribbean Solidarity Network
  34. Mennonite Central Committee Canada
  35. MiningWatch Canada
  36. National Union of Public and General Employees
  37. Nobel Women’s Initiative
  38. NORDIK institute – Algoma University
  39. Oxfam Canada
  40. Oxfam-Québec
  41. Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie
  42. Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation
  43. Public Service Alliance of Canada / Alliance de la Fonction publique du Canada
  44. Teamsters Canada
  45. The United Church of Canada / L'Église Unie du Canada
  46. United Steelworkers / Syndicat des Métallos
  47. Unifor

1INDEPAZ, Informe Especial: Violaciones a los Derechos Humanos en tiempos de Paz, p. 13.
2Gobierno de Colombia, Unidad para la atención y reparación integral a las víctimas, Cifras: Desplazamiento - Personas.
3UNHCR, Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2018, p. 6.
4OHCHR, Colombia: UN experts condemn attacks on reintegrated former combatants, urge respect for peace process.

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