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Amid new reports of human rights abuses in Colombia involving the assassination of union leaders, Canada’s largest labour organization says it is appalled the Harper government will try to fast-track approval of a free trade deal with that country.

“I’m deeply saddened by a new report from Colombia’s National Labour School that chronicles the assassination of 45 Colombian trade union leaders in 2009,” says Paul Moist, president of the 600,000-member Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

“In the face of these serious, ongoing abuses it is unacceptable that Ottawa would even be talking to the Colombian government, let alone fast-tracking an agreement,” Moist says.

The victims were women and men killed by right-wing death squads tied to the government because they were fighting to improve living standards and protect basic rights for Colombian workers.

Meanwhile, recent reports by the United Nations and Amnesty International have raised serious concerns about escalating violence against Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, including murder and forcible displacements. Over 4 million Colombians have become refugees in their own country mainly due to ongoing paramilitary violence.

“We renew our call for Canada to carry out an independent human rights impact assessment on the situation in Colombia before any further talks with the Colombian government are held,” says Moist.


For more information contact:
CUPE Media Relations – (613) 852-1494