To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the death of (a) Adolfo Tique, (b) Diego Ricardo Rasedo Guerra, (c) Arled Samboni Guaca and (d) Leovigildo Mejia in Colombia in January 2009; and if he will make a statement.
We are aware of all four murders and understand that the Colombian authorities have made no arrests and the perpetrators of the crimes have so far escaped justice.
Although the murder rate in Colombia has almost halved in recent years, the overall figure for 2009 was still as high as 15,817. We regularly raise our concerns with senior Colombian Ministers. I visited Colombia in October 2009, and urged President Uribe to do more to improve the human rights situation. Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez and I issued a joint statement, declaring that
"the defence of human rights is necessary and legitimate for democracy, in a country like Colombia which is proud of being fully open and ready for international scrutiny on this subject".
Our embassy in Bogotá also visits those who are under threat, and makes representations to the Colombian authorities in cases of violence or intimidation against trade unionists, including that of Adolfo Tique or other members of Colombian civil society.