PBI-Canada organizes virtual roundtable with Colombian defenders and Canadian civil society
Alexandra González Zapata (CSPP) and Fabian Laverde (COSPACC).
On June 2, Peace Brigades International-Canada organized a virtual roundtable to enable Colombian human rights defenders to share their concerns about Toronto-based Frontera Energy and its impact on the community of San Luis de Palenque.
Alexandra González Zapata from the Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners (CSPP) and Fabian Laverde from the Social Corporation for Community Advisory and Training Services (COSPACC) outlined the situation that culminated in the criminalization and arrest of eight community leaders from San Luis de Palenque on November 27, 2018.
The Canadian civil society members who joined the virtual roundtable included representatives from Above Ground, the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), Amnesty International Canada, WWF-Canada, le Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie (PASC), and el Comité por los Derechos Humanos en América Latina (CDHAL).
Three members of the Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project also participated in this Zoom roundtable conversation.
In December 2019, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Michel Forst noted his concerns about what happened in San Luis de Palenque in his report to the Human Rights Council.
Forst’s report stated (on page 9, points 29 and 30): “Social protests [took place] between 2016 and 2018 in response to the failure of Canadian public company Frontera Energy to fulfil its obligation to compensate communities affected by environmental damage and to repair damaged roads.”
Forst highlights: “In November 2018, Frontera Energy signed two agreements with the Ministry of Defence for a total of US$1,343,106 to secure army protection for its activities.” He then notes that on December 4, 2018, the army and the police accused the aforementioned leaders of being members of an illegal armed group.
PBI-Canada and PBI-Colombia continue to work on this issue in collaboration with the CSPP, COSPACC and Canadian civil society. Plans are now emerging for a trilingual webinar on this situation hopefully later this month so please keep watch for details about that and other related initiatives.