Colombia: Human Rights

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 4th April 2019.

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Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will publish a response to EDM 2232 on Peace and Protection of Defenders in Colombia.

Photo of Alan Duncan Alan Duncan Minister of State

I share the Hon Member's concern regarding the implementation of the Peace Accords between the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The UK continues to support the peace process, contributing over £40 million through the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund since 2015 to projects that are bringing sustainable peace to the country. We have expressed concern to the Colombian Government over delays to the transitional justice system, which is a critical part of the peace process.

I share also the Hon Member's concern about the ongoing killings and threats by armed criminal groups in Colombia, a subject we raised in January at the UN Security Council in New York and in March at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. At the Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights in May 2018, Colombia accepted the UK's recommendations to improve protection of human rights defenders. The UN Verification Mission's mandate acknowledges the importance of human rights, and the mission cooperates closely with the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights.

The Human Rights programmes led and funded by the British Embassy in Bogotá make a real difference to the lives of many human rights defenders, social leaders and, in particular, victims of sexual violence in conflict. We continue to work with civil society groups in the UK and Colombia to bring individual cases to the attention of the Colombian authorities, including the two specific cases cited in Early Day Motion 2232.

We condemned the bombing of a police academy in Bogotá on 17 January by the National Liberation Army (ELN), which claimed 20 innocent lives and caused the breakdown of peace talks. We urge an end to violence to allow productive negotiations to resume.

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