Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 4th July 2012.

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Photo of David Anderson David Anderson Labour, Blaydon

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will raise attacks on trade unionists in Colombia with the Colombian Government.

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Mr Browne, discussed human rights with President Santos, Foreign Minister Holguin and Vice President Garzon during his visit to Colombia in March 2012.

Our embassy in Bogota continues to raise our concerns about the violence and intimidation suffered by human rights defenders, including trade unionists, with the Colombian Government. Our embassy also funded a study by UN Development Programme last year into violence against trade unionists and is following up its recommendations with the Ministry of Labour.

Human rights continue to be an integral part of our dialogue and relationship with Colombia. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's 2011 Human Rights and Democracy Report outlined the important steps that the Santos Administration has taken to improve the human rights situation in Colombia, but also that more remains to be done. We urge the Colombian Government to provide greater protection for human rights defenders and their families, to reduce the length of time taken to investigate murders and forced disappearances, and to work with unions and employee organisations to strengthen labour relations in Colombia.

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