Anti-union violence persists in Colombia

Foto de referencia Mario Arturo Marínez, Concurso latinoamericano de fotografía documental los trabajos y los días, 2016

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Since 2011, Alex Espinosa, treasurer of Asonal Judicial (one of Colombia’s unions of judicial workers), and human rights Coordinator at Central Union of Workers (Central Unitaria de Trabajadores, CUT in Spanish) in the department of Norte de Santander, had reported threats against his life. However, upon asking for protection, the response by the National Protection Unit (NPU) was an ordinary-risk assessment, and therefore a refusal to grant him measures to protect his life. Alex Fabián was killed on May 30, 2015.

The latter is one of the stories included in the report “Anti-union violence, impunity and protection of union workers in Colombia, 2012-2017”, published this week by the Escuela Nacional Sindical.

Once again, the ENS has denounced that despite the numerous recommendations by international organizations such as the ILO or the UNDP and the OECD and the ratification of commitments and implementation of measures by the Government in the framework of the Labor Action Plan (LAP) signed with the United States and the Roadmap (Resolution 2628) agreed with the UN, there still much left to be done on this issue.

According to the report, there have been around 2.220 violations to the rights to life, freedom and integrity of Colombian trade unionists, 143 of which have been murders. The previous year, there were 19 murder cases.

According to the ENS, measures taken in the country to protect the life of trade unionists are incomplete and inefficient and there is no public policy on protection for trade unionists and their organizations.

Impunity is another important issue for Colombian trade-unionism. According to the report, in 2015, 95% of acts of violence against trade-unionists led to no convictions.

The report concludes that “to transform impunity into justice, truth and compensation for the victims, it is necessary to adopt measures aimed at strengthening the Attorney General’s (Fiscalía General de la Nación) capacity and to change research methodologies.

You can also download the report “Anti-union violence, impunity and protection of union workers in Colombia, 2012-2017” here.

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