5 things to know since the CCALCP and CREDHOS advocacy tour in Canada in November 2019

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: The Colombian delegation arriving at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Canada in the early morning hours of November 2, 2019.

One year ago, Julia Figueroa and Andrea Nocove from the Luis Carlos Perez Lawyers’ Collective (CCALCP) and Ivan Madero from the Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights (CREDHOS) visited Canada for an eight-day advocacy tour.

They were accompanied by Javier Garate, the Canada/USA advocacy representative from the Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project.

Their visit is documented at Photo-journal of 8-day solidarity tour by Colombian human rights defenders from CCALCP and CREDHOS to Canada.

What has happened since then?

1- During the tour, the defenders raised concerns about Canadian companies seeking to frack in Colombia. Those concerns have continued to be expressed. Next week, however, Toronto-based Sintana Energy will likely be awarded a contract to frack in Puerto Wilches, Santander. Furthermore, several activists in Barrancabermeja, where CREDHOS is based, recently received a death threat related to their opposition to fracking.

2- The defenders raised the need to have meaningful mechanisms to file grievances against Canadian corporations. They asked officials for examples of how the Global Affairs ‘Voices at Risk’ guidelines had been used and been successful. This week, it was announced that the launch of the long-promised (but weak) Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) complaints mechanism has been delayed until early 2021.

3- The defenders highlighted their concerns about the lack of the implementation of the 2016 Peace Agreement. One year later, those concerns remain. Last month there was a massive one-day national strike and an Indigenous Minga mobilization demanding that the Colombian government fulfill its obligations to implement the peace accord.

4- The defenders raised their concerns about the aerial fumigation of coca crops. In 2015, a court ruling ended 25 years of the aerial spraying of these crops. While the Trump administration had been pressuring the Colombian government to resume spraying, it is hoped that the recent election of Joe Biden could mean the US may now favour crop substitution and rural development instead.

5- The defenders also raised the high number of human rights defenders who have been killed since the peace agreement in 2016. Sadly, this situation has only worsened. Last month, Indepaz reported that at least 223 social leaders – community activists defending human, environmental and land rights – had been murdered this year. Prime Minister Trudeau has spoken with Colombian President Ivan Duque twice in recent months but has not raised this serious and pressing issue.

PBI-Canada continues to be in touch with CCALCP, CREDHOS and our colleagues at PBI-Colombia and to work on the issues raised during the tour.

While the pandemic has meant that a Canadian delegation that we were organizing to visit the sites of Canadian corporate violence in Colombia for September has been postponed, we are now looking at ways to conduct a virtual delegation.

Photo: CREDHOS president Ivan Madero receives a t-shirt from the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group at their office in Duncan, BC on November 9, 2019. On October 21, 2020, Madero wore that t-shirt during the national strike/Minga mobilization in Barrancabermeja.

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