EU-Latin America: Set Human Rights Benchmarks


On the eve of the EU-Latin America and Caribbean Summit to be held in Madrid (17-18 May), Amnesty International has released a report warning of the need for better monitoring of the European Union’s human rights clause in agreements between the countries represented and to address “urgent” human rights problems across the region.

In particular, as the summit comes on the eve of the first round of Presidential elections in Colombia, Amnesty International, which recently sent a mission to the country, is calling on the EU to press the Colombian government to protect civilians caught up in the conflict between government forces and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

“It is not enough for the EU and its partners in the Americas to repeat statements about mutual respect for human rights. It is now time to move from the rhetoric about ‘shared values’ to concrete action,” said Dick Oosting, Director of Amnesty International’s EU Office.

While Amnesty International acknowledges some positive developments on the human rights front in recent years, in a detailed memorandum to the Madrid summit, it points to continuing human rights abuses in the region:

  • Political killings, “disappearances” and extrajudicial executions persist;
  • Victims of human rights violations are still routinely denied justice;
  • Impunity for past abuses allows contempt for the rule of law to flourish;
  • Violent and repressive policing and torture continue unabated in many countries;
  • In Colombia, human rights defenders are subject to a campaign involving killings, threats and intimidation by some sectors of the Colombian security forces and their paramilitary allies.

Amnesty International calls on the EU at the Madrid summit to:

  • Set concrete objectives regarding human rights protection to ensure compliance with agreements and commitments undertaken by countries receiving EU cooperation funds;
  • Insist on the eradication of amnesty laws and other mechanisms perpetuating impunity for human rights abuses;
  • Step up EU assistance for the fair administration of justice in the region, including for the protection of witnesses of human rights violations;
  • Ensure that EU funds are not used for projects within the Colombian government’s so-called “Plan Colombia”.

Click here for the full text of Amnesty International’s memorandum (AI Index AMR 01/001/2002 in PDF/Acrobat format) to the Madrid summit: “Settle the past, safeguard the future. A challenge to the EU and and Latin American and Caribbean governments to promote and protect human rights in an evolving partnership“.

For further comment/background and interviews:

Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels):
Tel: 32-2-5021499
Fax: 32-2-5025686
E-mail: [email protected]