It is an honour to serve under your chairship, Mrs Miller, and I refer Members to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. I thank my hon. Friend Kate Osborne for securing this important debate, and for her powerful contribution. I also thank my constituents in Liverpool, West Derby who have been in touch with me regularly and have asked me to raise their concerns about human rights violations in Colombia directly with the Minister.
I previously raised my concerns in the House on
Since late April the situation has become worse. There has been a violent police response to mass protests organised to object to the proposed tax reform and in response to longer-running demands about growing poverty, the murder of social activists and the failed implementation of the peace agreement. Between
There has been international condemnation of the Colombian Government’s response to the mass mobilisation and protests. The UN has condemned the use of excessive force, and the EU has called for the disproportionate use of force by the security forces to stop. Will the Minister today join those calls and issue a full condemnation of the violence of the Colombian police and of the Government’s comments undermining the right to protest?
I visited Colombia with JFC—Justice for Colombia—in 2018, and I met some of the most inspiring people I have ever met: trade unionists, mainly mothers, who put their lives in danger every single day to fight for a more equal society. The sight of them getting into vehicles with armed guards is something that will not leave me when I think back. I left with the impression of a beautiful country and a proud nation who had seen the glimpse of a chance of peace, but who distrust that the Government would honour their side of the agreement. The past two years have proved them heartbreakingly correct. Overwhelmingly all parties in 2018 said that international pressure would be needed to eventually achieve the peace that they all sought. Will the Minister work with her Colombian counterpart to bring about the implementation of the 2016 peace agreement that gives hope and a real chance to end the human rights violations taking place now?