The federal government has not yet tabled a human rights impact assessment of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement -- an annual requirement of the still controversial deal. This could be because Parliament was not sitting that week. Or it could signify a lack of interest in taking seriously the real impacts that increased trade and investment can have on human rights, Indigenous rights and the environment. Prime Minister Harper was just in Colombia to pursue even more free trade through the Pacific Alliance but mining seemed to be the only thing on his mind.
Amnesty International points out that while human rights are not high on Harper's agenda for Latin America, since signing the FTA in 2011, "Canada increased its cooperation with Colombia's military and changed export rules to allow for arms sales to the Colombian army." This is in a context of increasing violence against Indigenous communities closely related to land use.
The human rights organization explains that in the past year:
More Indigenous leaders were killed amidst efforts to defend the land of their people and their right to determine how it is used. Vulnerable Indigenous communities were bombed by the army, while others suffered violent incursions by guerrilla forces and by paramilitaries. Indigenous organizations reported that armed conflict and grave abuses took place precisely in territory that third parties want to exploit for its natural resources. Colombia's constitutional court expanded its list of Indigenous peoples in need of special measures to prevent them from being wiped out.
The U.S. Office on Colombia has just released a report on the special impact of mining on the country. The report concludes that, "the unregulated and pro-transnational large-scale mining engine advocated by contemporary government officials contributes to the cycle of land dispossession and forced displacement in Colombia," and that, "recent human rights violation cases demonstrate how increasing mining exploration and exploitation activities have exacerbated the risk of Indigenous peoples' extermination, assassination of Afro-Colombians and union leaders, and the contamination of ecological environments from which local communities depend."
Take action -- Call on MPs to ensure Canada speaks up for Indigenous peoples in Colombia
- Call on the Canadian government to press for implementation of court-ordered protections so that Indigenous peoples can live safely on their own lands.
- Ensure Parliament examines the role of Canadian trade with Colombia, to ensure that companies do not contribute to or benefit from human rights violation
When the human rights impact assessment of the Canada-Colombia FTA becomes available, we will report on it here.
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