EU-Colombia: EU Aid Must Not Fuel Human Rights Crisis

In the lead-up to Thursday’s meeting on International Support for Colombia, in which the European Commission, and representatives of EU Member States will participate, Amnesty International has called on the EU to guarantee that any further aid to Colombia will not be diverted to activities or groups which may contribute to the worsening human rights crisis in the country.

Amnesty International’s EU Office today released a briefing paper which includes nine recommendations for the EU and EU Member States for their conduct at Thursday’s crucial meeting in London on aid to Colombia: (“Colombia: Briefing to the European Union” see link at end of page).

Among the recommendations, Amnesty International calls on the EU to:

  • Provide safeguards that its aid monies will not fall into the hands of paramilitaries or guerrillas, particularly in light of the Colombian government’s recent policies which may result in the legitimization of paramilitaries;
  • Insist that the government of President Alvaro Uribe fully implement UN human rights recommendations;
  • Urge Member States to desist from provision of any kind of military aid to Colombia;
  • Ensure that organizations representing Colombia’s human rights sector, humanitarian concerns, displaced communities, peace efforts, trade unions, peasant farmers and indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, are properly represented at all donors meetings relating to assistance to Colombia.

“Since peace talks broke down last year between the Colombian government and the main armed opposition group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the security policies of the administration of President Alvaro Uribe have only served to exacerbate the already severe human rights crisis in the country,” said Gabriele Juen, Executive Officer at Amnesty International’s EU Office in Brussels.

In Colombia last year, more than 4,000 civilians were killed for political motives, at least 500 people “disappeared”, over 400,000 were displaced – a record high – and at least 1,500 people were kidnapped by armed groups, the majority by guerrilla forces. According to Amnesty International, while guerrilla forces are responsible for numerous and repeated violations of international humanitarian law, the security forces and their paramilitary allies account for some 80% of politically-motivated killings and over 90% of forced “disappearances”.

“The European Union and those individual EU Member States which have extensive trade and commercial ties with Colombia, have an opportunity to make a difference at Thursday’s meeting, by sending a strong message to the Colombian government that the international community will not tolerate Colombia’s continued flouting of United Nations human rights recommendations,” said Gabriele Juen.

“The human rights crisis will only be resolved when the Colombian government fully implements the UN recommendations. Unless it does so, any international aid to the country could be used to fuel what is already a tragic situation”.

“We call on the EU to ensure that Colombian NGOs are properly represented in these talks, and for their concerns to be fully taken into account. In particular, the EU should continue to fund or provide political support for those NGOs which denounce violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and which have in recent months been threatened and harassed,” she said.

For interviews in Spanish, please contact:
Peter Drury in London on 0044-207-413-5697.

For further comment/background and interviews:
Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels):
Tel: 32-2-5021499
Fax: 32-2-5025686

E-mail: [email protected]

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