PBI-Canada highlights the concerns of three Colombian human rights groups about port expansion in Buenaventura

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: In February, PBI-Colombia accompanied the Inter-Church Commission on Justice and Peace as concerns were expressed about the bodies that have been dumped by armed groups into the waters around Buenaventura.

Global Affairs Canada produces an annual report on human rights relating to the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

This Annual Report has been criticized by Canadian civil society for several reasons, including it excludes investment and focuses in a limited way on the human rights impacts of tariff reductions.

Those tariff reductions have resulted in merchandise trade increasing by approximately 30 percent overall since 2010. Some of that would transit through the port in Buenaventura given it accounts for about 60 per cent of all Colombian imports and exports by sea.

Aware of the limitations of the annual report, PBI-Canada has submitted concerns articulated by three PBI-Colombia accompanied organizations that connect the expansion of the port in Buenaventura with human rights violations.

That brief highlighted:

The Association for Research and Social Action (NOMADESC) has pursued research to show how the port and infrastructure development are linked to human rights violations and the infringement of constitutional and ethno-territorial rights.

The Inter-Church Commission on Justice and Peace has also produced a report that notes this concern as well and highlights “the magnitude of the international trade agreements that frame the claim to expand the Colombian market abroad … makes it essential that the State participate as a guarantor of the rights of the population at risk.”

And the Nydia Erika Bautista Foundation for Human Rights (FNEB) has opposed expansion of the port because it destroys areas where they report graves.

Yesterday, El Tiempo reported that the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) tribunal had agreed to study a request from 16 organizations, including the Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace and the Nydia Erika Bautista Foundation for Human Rights, to order the protection of the wetlands in the south of the city so that residents would have the right to search for their missing relatives.

The Global Affairs annual report on the free trade agreement will be tabled on May 27.

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