Deadly pact

The Hour, Montreal

Deadly pact

By Stefan Christoff

2 April 2009

Opposition is growing over a controversial bilateral trade agreement Canada signed with Colombia in November, the largest trade accord in the Americas after NAFTA.

A recent wave of political killings by paramilitary groups and government security forces in Colombia has systematically targeted union organizers and social activists, again raising concerns over Colombia’s ability to enforce its own laws and protect workers.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the trade pact in a joint press conference with right-wing Colombian president Alvaro Uribe over four months ago, but legislation won’t be approved for the agreement by either country until sometime in January 2010.

In a report published last year, Amnesty International took Colombia to task for human rights violations: "Paramilitary groups, often acting in collusion with or with the acquiescence of the [government] security forces, have been responsible for most of the killings of trade unionists... the aim of such threats and killings is clear - to undermine and discredit the work of trade unionists."

"A clear responsibility for the killings rests with the Uribe government, so it’s crazy that the Canadian government signed an accord with a government that has clearly carried out crimes against humanity," says Tania Hallé, an activist with Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie. "Harper is signing an accord
with a president [and] government that should be brought before the International Criminal Court."

Starting this week in Montreal, PASC will co-ordinate three weeks of actions and events to oppose the accord. For a full list of scheduled events, visit www.pasc.ca.

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